The Pursuit of Happiness

 
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5.0 (3)
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Age Range
14+
ISBN
1416513280
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Afterwards
Overall rating 
 
5.0
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In this dramatic and engaging story, a teenage girl named Betsy is grief-stricken when her mother loses her battle with cancer. Though Betsy typically gets along well with her younger brother and father, her mother's death causes the family members to pull apart quietly, each dealing with the loss in his or her own way.

Summer has a lot of other changes in store for Betsy. Her boyfriend dumps her shortly after her mother's funeral. Her best friend Mary may not be her best friend any longer. Her job at the colonial village, where she has to dress up and play the part of the dutiful daughter, becomes more intriguing due to her co-workers Liza (complete with piercings and a bad reputation) and James (apprentice by day, surfer by night). She also finds herself with a new hobby: cutting silhouettes out of paper.

As Betsy struggles with the five stages of grief, she occasionally falters, then later regrets what she said or did. Altebrando infuses her main character with a strong spirit. Betsy never stops trying to get back on her feet, and readers will cheer her on.

This book moves along at a steady pace, with a first-person narrative enabling the reader to get inside Betsy's head. The coming-of-age tale greatly benefits from the summertime setting. The realistic dialogue will meet the approval of teen and adult readers.

Tara Altebrando has written a wonderful tale about love, loss, family, and finding yourself. I highly recommend it. If you enjoy The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen or The Alison Rules by Catherine Clark, you will undoubtedly enjoy The Pursuit of Happiness.
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Summer Grieving and Growing
Overall rating 
 
5.0
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5.0
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Reader reviewed by Stephanie

The summer before her senior year looks like its going to be Betsys worst. First, the traumatic event of her mother dying of breast cancer. Then, her boyfriend Brandon leaves her for another girl whom hes been seeing behind her back. She grudgingly works at Morrisville, a historically reenacted village, and her father and young brother Ben are slowly falling apart (they wind up eating takeout and fast food every night).

Betsy feels like the loneliest girl in the world, but as she moves through the stages of grief, she begins to expand her once limited worldview. She befriends Liza, her fellow coworker-slash-classmate whom she has never spoken to before because they ran in completely different crowds. She also gets to know another coworker, James, an intelligent carpenter whom she believes she can fall in love with. If only the situation wasnt so&complicated.

This is a wonderfully done story. Sometimes I dont like how it doesnt seem to focus enough on the past, but Altebrando masterfully ties everything together in a satisfying conclusion. This book is, above all, real. It is a wonderful read that I highly recommend.
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truly remarkable
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5.0
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Reader reviewed by Alexandra

Betsy knows that the surest social suicide is a summer job at the colonial village. Yet there she is. And who should be her co-worker but Liza Henske, the biggest freak at school. True, she has to remove all her piercings and cover her tattoos for work, but regardless, she doesn't want to work with her. Luckily, James, another boy who works at the village, is pretty cute. Then Betsy's mother dies, and things like social status and boys start to matter a lot less. She realizes that Liza isn't such a freak when you get to know her, and that the village is a great escape from her broken family and suddenly disappeared "friends." James starts making her wooden sculptures, and that inspires Betsy to take up her own artistic pursuits. If there ever seemed a time to pursue happiness, instead of letting it come to her, this is it. Altebrando's incredibly realistic writing style allows you to feel Betsy's every emotion -- embarrassment, sadness, drunkenness, hopefulness. Betsy, Liza, James, and the rest of the characters will soon seem like your best friends, and you'll want to finish this in one sittin. Who knows, when you're done, the novel may even inspire you to go out and pursue your own happiness.
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Happiness found?
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
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0.0
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Reader reviewed by DG

Tara Altebrando did a great job writing a teen book that isn't like all the others (Gossip Girl, It Girl, A-List, etc.). The Pursuit of Happiness is all about a teen named Betsy who's trying to figure out why life is the way it's turned out to be. Her mother just passed away and she's confused and torn apart. Her boyfriend just broke up with her for another girl. Her summer job is her only escape from reality.

If you're a fan of Sarah Dessen's writing then for sure you'll like this book. If you're looking for fluffy teen books, I suggest to look elsewhere.
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