Release Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”
Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?
When I was offered a review copy of the forthcoming audiobook, I was excited to try it. I’d bounced hard off Let’s Talk About Love, Kann’s acerep YA book from a few years ago. I’m not sure what about that story didn’t jive with me, especially since so many people, acespec and allo alike, seem to love it so much. With If It Makes You Happy, I figured I’d try Kann out again. Unfortunately for me, once again the story didn’t land with me. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with the plot, characters, or narrative structure. I just couldn’t seem to get onto the same frequency as the story.
That being said, I can see where readers who aren’t me will really get into this book. Winnie is confident in her body without it falling into “body positivity” mantras. Her rocky, complex familial relationships will be compelling for many readers, particularly with how she struggles to connect to her grandmother.
The queer rep is great, too. Winnie is attracted to both Dallas and her friend Kara, who is aromatic and with whom she’s the “ungirlfriend” to (they’re in a queerplatonic relationship). This is one of those rare queer stories where it’s really about the journey. Winnie is still figuring out who she is and what she wants, including with her queerness.
Caroline Sorunke’s narration was a big boon to this story. I loved her voice and the way she handled the different characters. She kept me invested in the novel, even if I wasn’t passionate about what was happening in it. For those who like listening to audiobooks as much as I do, I definitely recommend Sorunke as a narrator. If you’re still on the fence about reading If It Makes You Happy, go with the audiobook and let Sorunke pull you in.
Thanks to the publicist for sending me a review copy of the audiobook.
Buy it at bookshop.org (affiliate link) or at libro.fm.