How to Be Happy by David Burton
Published August 26, 2015 by Text Publishing
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars
From the blurb: A funny, sad and serious memoir, 'How to Be Happy' is David Burton's story of his turbulent life at high school and beyond. Feeling out of place and convinced that he is not normal, David has a rocky start. He longs to have a girlfriend, but his first 'date' is a disaster. There's the catastrophe of the school swimming carnival - David is not sporty - and friendships that take devastating turns. Then he finds some solace in drama classes with the creation of 'Crazy Dave', and he builds a life where everything is fine. But everything is not fine.How to Be Happy, David Burton's debut novel, won the 2014 Text Prize. David grew up in a rural Queensland town with his parents, both had suffered depression during their lives, and younger twin brothers with Asperger's Syndrome. From a young age he suffered anxiety and this carried on into his teenage years, along with depression. This is a wonderfully detailed memoir that reads like fiction, I often had to remind myself that David wasn't a fictional character, and sometimes I got a J.D-from-Scrubs vibe, which I loved.
And, at the centre of it all, trying desperately to work it all out, is the real David.
'How to Be Happy' tackles depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, academic pressure, love and adolescent confusion. It's a brave and honest account of one young man's search for a happy, true and meaningful life that will resonate with readers young and old.
David is so honest in his retelling, and I think you really have to be to have a compelling story. He doesn't shy away from admitting he sat by as a classmate with Asperger's Syndrome was teased. He shares his deepest fears and the thoughts he often obsessed about. He talks about his confusion around gender and sexuality. I don't think many people could share such personal details and I was really impressed with the level of truth and vulnerability in this book.
How to Be Happy is a perfect books for teens and adults, specifically if have struggled with these issues that are common to most people's experience. It's funny, touching, and insightful, and I think it could help a lot of people feel less isolated.
Two books I've found helpful: 10% Happier by Dan Harris and Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion by Elisha Goldstein.
Thank you to Text Publishing for my review copy.
I love this quirky cover and it was a lot of fun to paint.
I started with 2 coats of Zoya Yummy.
I sponged some China Glaze White Out over the top and used acrylic paint for the illustrations.