Happyface

Stephen Emond, Author Little, Brown $16.99 (307p) ISBN 978-0-316-04100-3

Comic artist Emond (Emo Boy ) pens an endearing and self-deprecatingly witty debut novel à la illustrated diary that manifests the insecurities, longings, and trials of a recognizable brand of teenage male. The narrator—an introverted, artistically talented sophomore—is trying an “everything goes” personality at his new school (he gets the nickname Happyface). The facade works. He makes a group of eclectic friends, including a possible love interest, but Happyface has skeletons in his closet: his parents’ collapsed relationship, how his former crush broke his heart, and the reason he switched schools—a gruesome secret readers don’t learn about until Happyface is emotionally able to write about it. Throughout, Happyface shares his grievances and hopes, but also feelings too scary to write about (illustrations come easier). By the time his sketchbook’s full, readers will have a palpable sense of how much he’s grown and how painful—but worthwhile—the process was. The illustrations range from comics to more fleshed-out drawings. Just like Happyface’s writing, they can be whimsical, thoughtful, boyishly sarcastic, off-the-cuff, or achingly beautiful. The best exhibit hints of all of the above. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/25/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
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Paperback - 307 pages - 978-0-316-04099-0
Prebound-Glued - 307 pages - 978-0-606-23458-0
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