Review: Never Trust a Happy Song by Natalie Bina

PAPERBACK; 246 P.
CREATESPACE, 2014
SOURCE: FROM THE AUTHOR

When Cassidy Diamond is admitted to a prestigious summer program at Stanford University, she looks forward to being surrounded by people just like herself: smart, studious, and antisocial. But when Cassidy is assigned to stay with the Harper family and meets their vivacious and uninhibited daughter Grace, the two girls clash at first sight. Cassidy is determined to not let Grace distract her from her studies, while Grace wants to show Cassidy that maybe her grades aren’t all she has going for her, and that life might be about more than building the perfect resume.

A few months ago an author approached me to ask if I’d be interested in reviewing her YA book, Never Trust a Happy Song. I was a bit hesitant at first, because I’ve lately felt that I’ve “outgrown” the YA genre. However, the premise of the book sounded interesting and I felt that at least I could relate to the problem of trying to balance life and studies. And I’m so glad that I did read this, because it was such a joy to read – a Sunday well spent!

Never Trust a Happy Song begins with Cassidy and her mom driving to Stanford, where Cassidy is going to spend the next three months studying maths and physics. This is the second summer that Cassidy spends studying, but unlike last summer, this time she is placed in a host family – the Harpers. From the get-go Cassidy feels like a stranger in the house: the family jokes with one another, does small talk during dinners, and the daughter, Grace, keeps following her around, inviting her to go bowling, shopping, etc. The summer program in Stanford is no joke, and Cassidy has to keep her head in the game if she wants to get good grades – which, according to her parents, she’ll need to ensure she’ll get to an Ivy League college. However, as she becomes more accustomed to living with the Harpers, she slowly starts to question whether she is making the right decisions.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the book although high school was ages ago. Never Trust a Happy Song reminded me of both the academic and social pressures that are at work, but also about the importance of making your own decisions. Cassidy’s mother is one of those “tiger mothers” that keep pushing their children to work harder in order for them to gain success. Reading about Cassidy’s experience and about finding her own voice was sort of inspiring. The only thing that bothered me slightly was the fact that in the beginning of the book I had some trouble picturing the characters. However, as the story progressed the characters also began to grow and pull the story together. Besides that, there were also some scenes that could have been developed further to push the envelope. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed Never Trust a Happy Song and I’d recommend it to everyone who’s feeling unsure about the future or anxious about applying to college/university.

Never Trust a Happy Song will be re-released as an ebook on March 10th.

4/5

The unspoken words pressed down like a new form of gravity.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

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