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Book Review: Happy, Happy, Happy – Nicola Masters

An introspective piece about a protagonist who is definitely sad, sad, sad.

Nicola Masters’ debut novel, Happy, Happy, Happy, follows the journey of Charlie Trewin as she navigates self-doubt and generational trauma when she’s forced to return to her hometown after the untimely death of her father. It’s an introspective piece that I believe will be hit and miss for the reader depending on the experiences of the reader themselves.

After the death of her mother when Charlie was a young girl, Charlie began emotionally shutting herself off from the world, purposefully growing distant from her father and everyone else in her hometown. She escapes to college in London, hoping for a glamorous, busy, semi-anonymous life; a choice that will resonate with many readers who have or hope to do the same as young adults. Masters does a fantastic job delving into Charlie’s train of thought as Charlie continues to wish for closeness and intimacy while continuing to shut herself off from the world so much that she finds herself without friends and is completely unenthusiastic about her upcoming marriage to her fiance, James. Early on in the plot, Charlie remembers something her mother told her before she died: “You have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with anybody else.” As Charlie returns to her hometown, convinced that everyone has forgotten about her and that she’s merely back to deal with her father’s estate before making a quick escape back to London, she projects a stony exterior to the outside world, internally chanting, “I’m happy, happy, happy,”–especially when she clearly is not.

Readers who have dealt with extensive self-doubt and emotional trauma may identify with Charlie. A common phrase for people struggling emotionally is “Fake it until you make it,” but Charlie’s journey shows that lying to yourself doesn’t fix underlying issues. Her mother’s words ring true, but it takes work to love yourself, and this can be an incredible struggle for many. Charlie’s inner turmoil can frustrate the reader, but I believe this was an intentional choice by Masters. Even if someone knows what they need to address in order to begin healing, that first step can be the absolute hardest of all. Perhaps Masters’ exploration of Charlie’s journey will help some readers who are themselves struggling with self-doubt and self-love. Even if you’ve convinced yourself otherwise, you are never truly alone in this world.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from NetGalley for free and read it on my 10th generation Kindle Oasis. I was not paid for this review, and all opinions are my own. This review was originally written for NetGalley. The original review can be found here.

Title: Happy, Happy, Happy
Author: Nicola Masters
Publication Date: 19 May 2022
Print Length: 303 pages
Marie’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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