Books, Review

About Books #68: The Happiness Project

New Year, New resolutions – and so many ways to try and make the new year a better one. So why not start, for yourself or for friends, The Happiness Project?

I was offered an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are strictly my own.

The story

1) Exercise more
2) Eat healthily
3) Learn how to live again…

Forty-year-old Alison Lund has always carefully planned everything in her well-ordered life, from colour co-ordinating her beautiful house to persuading her excitable son Alexander that sticker charts are more fun than misbehaving. But Alison’s perfect world has just fallen apart…

Her head is left spinning when her beloved larger than life mother-in-law, Maggie, passes away and Alison is left heartbroken. Every afternoon they’d talk and laugh over a pot of tea, she was the glue that kept Alison together through the first few tough years of motherhood. And now Alison is trying to figure out a future without her.

With a little help from her two best friends, Alison resolves to be more Maggie. After an emotional New Year’s Eve get together, the three women create a happiness project, challenging themselves to step outside their comfort zones and make the most of every single day.

Daring to do things differently, can Alison learn to live more spontaneously and find happiness along the way? Or will letting go be harder than she ever imagined?

The opinion

First things first: this book is marketed as a hilarious book, as being “one of the most poignant and uplifting books you will read this year”. I wouldn’t quite describe it as such. The most uplifting book I will read this year? Probably not. It is, however, a great book about friendship and the struggles of friendship when faced with old insecurities, running kids and new year’s resolutions.

After all, setting up a happiness project – what could possibly go wrong, right? (Even if that happiness project is more so the start of the book, than the actual plot) Surely, there’s no possible way for a pact that has “happiness” as its explicit goal to possibly go wrong? Right?

Apart from that bit where, as we all know, it’s all too easy to see other people’s best and compare it with your worst. Even if those “other people” are your friends. Pippa James really goes into the “gritty” of friendships – how, even when you’re supporting each other, you can feel looked down on. How sometimes your best feels like lacking, when compared to how easy things may seem to come to them. How it can often feel as if your own insecurities are highlighted by the contrast with your friends, especially when you are projecting them on those around you…

Suffice it to say: I could really identify with each of the three women and the journey they made throughout this book. Each of them faces circumstances that force them to have to change. Frankie maybe more drastically so than the other two, although, then again: Alison’s transformation is saved to the last and packs quite the punch because of it.

One thing I should maybe note: this is technically the second book in a series. This isn’t really announced anywhere that I could find, which left me feeling as if I was missing out on some information. Turns out I was, of course. However, after the first couple of chapters, you really are all caught up. So while it might be useful to read the first part of this series first, it’s not necessary as such. If you’re willing to make your way through those first chapters, that is.

The rating: 3/5

While I did enjoy this book, I think I might have gotten my hopes up too high because of the praise this book had gotten already. Sure, The Happiness Project is a very enjoyable read, but: again… I wouldn’t quite go for “the most poignant”… If you’re in the mood for a lovely story highlighting mothers and the way their friendships develop? Then this is exactly the book for you! (Goodreads)

-Saar