Happy and You Know It
More About Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin
- ISBN-13: 9781984806239
- ISBN-10: 1984806238
- Publisher: Berkley Books
- Publish Date: May 2020
- Page Count: 384
- Dimensions: 9.31 x 6.44 x 1.31 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.25 pounds
8 ways to spend a summer day
When the sun is high and a summer afternoon stretches out before you with zero expectations, a great book—read for inspiration, thrills or pure enjoyment—is all you need.
For readers who want the fun of reality TV but the heart of a good drama
Laura Hankin’s Happy and You Know It is the sort of novel that can suck a reader in and hold them until a whole day has passed, but it’s also a multidimensional story with riches revealed through close attention. After Claire is fired from her band, she’s trying to pay her way through New York City life, and a gig as a playgroup musician will have to do. The mothers in the group are wealthy and wellness-obsessed, but they easily incorporate Claire into their lives, and she welcomes the inclusion. As the playgroup moms work out their insecurities—within themselves and within their friendships—the metaphorical masks they wear begin to slip. With a light hand and a touch of mystery, Hankin’s debut explores feminism, class and the expectations placed on mothers. This is a romp with substance, consumed as easily as a beach read but offering ample opportunities for self-reflection.
—Carla Jean Whitley
For readers who want fiery pacing
Michael Maven is a New York thief who’s very good at his job and thinks that his next gig, stealing a rare coin from a rich guy’s apartment, should be easy. Then the job is interrupted by a mysterious woman, and within a matter of days, Michael finds himself at the center of a deadly web of drug cartels, crooked cops, the FBI and the woman who very nearly killed him—twice. Tight, thrilling and charming, Safecracker is a new take on the classic “crook-in-over-his-head” crime story, unfolding through Michael’s effortlessly cool narration. In prose that calls to mind the breeziest work of crime legends like Elmore Leonard, author Ryan Wick drives his narrative forward like a freight train. It’s expertly paced, witty and surprising, while also retaining a sense of the familiar that only comes from a love of the genre.
Editor’s note: Safecracker was originally scheduled for publication on June 2, 2020, but its publication was delayed until August 11, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
For readers looking for the humor in housework
In The Madwoman and the Roomba, Sandra Tsing Loh finds comedy in the indignities and absurdities of contemporary life while chronicling her 55th year. In two earlier nonfiction books, Loh adjusted to motherhood and went through a rocky divorce. This time, Loh is happily divorced and happily post-menopausal but still recording her life with let-it-all-hang-out charm. She recalls her embarrassing, claustrophobic freakout at the March for Science and tries to unleash her inner midlife goddess while parenting two teenagers. She describes her efforts to improve her terrible front yard, hire a painter, understand her malfunctioning high-tech fridge and follow her new cookbook’s recipes. Loh’s tone is chatty and self-deprecating, like having a glass of wine or a long phone call with your favorite witty, goofy friend. Because the narrative is loosely structured, you can read straight through or just dip into an essay when the mood strikes.
—Sarah McCraw Crow
For readers who believe that any season can be the season of the witch
In the kingdom of Morgrain, there is a castle. In that castle is a great black tower. And inside that tower, behind innumerable and impenetrable enchantments, is a door that should never be opened. Ryx, who has the power to kill anything she touches, is the Warden charged with keeping it safe. When a visiting mage ventures too close to the magic of the tower, Ryx finds herself at the heart of an international crisis. She must use all of her wits and talent to keep Morgrain, and the world, safe from unspeakable ruin. Like any good mystery, Melissa Caruso’s The Obsidian Tower slowly feeds the reader clue after clue, never fully revealing everything at once. But this book has moments of real pain and longing that have nothing to do with magic or towers. Not being able to have physical contact with anyone has changed Ryx, and the choices she makes to subvert or embrace this fact are beautiful and terrible—which makes her eventual confrontation with some very nasty magic all the more satisfying.
For readers who find strength in community
Sky is only 10 years old, but she’s experienced as much pain and confusion as someone three times her age. Although she was abandoned at a fire station as a newborn, she found a home with her adoptive parents. Now she’s starting over again, and this time she’s old enough to be aware of the pain. Sky’s adoptive parents have died in a car crash, and their will designates that Leo, Sky’s father’s best friend from childhood, will become her guardian. Leo is torn up at the loss of his friend, and now he must create a loving home for Sky. Her presence sends Leo and his husband, Xavier, into a tailspin. In My Kind of People, novelist Lisa Duffy paints a portrait of a community of people trying to find out who they are—and with whom they can be themselves. As neighbors jump in to help raise Sky, or to weigh in on what Leo could do better, Sky and Leo wrestle with their understanding of their changing circumstances. Duffy’s story is sweet but never cloying, and she’s unafraid to depict uncomfortable circumstances as the tale unfolds.
—Carla Jean Whitley
For readers who say they hate drama but actually love it
It is a truth universally acknowledged that mothers will meddle in their daughters’ love lives. For Andrea Tang, a successful 33-year-old lawyer in Singapore, that truism extends to her aunties, cousins and anyone else who can claim relation to her. What everyone wants to know is, when will she get married? After ending a long-term relationship, Andrea feels the pressure to find The One while also putting in as many billable hours as possible to secure a partnership in her law firm. Her friends offer support, but Andrea can’t stop thinking about Suresh, her officemate and competition for partner. He’s annoying, engaged to a beautiful but domineering Londoner and not at all Andrea’s type. Except that he’s exactly her type. Author Lauren Ho is a former attorney, and her debut novel is a blast. With a relatable, laugh-out-loud protagonist, Last Tang Standing is a near-perfect blend of Crazy Rich Asians and Bridget Jones’s Diary, yet it still feels wholly original.
For readers who miss their feminist film studies class
In Zan Romanoff’s YA novel Look, Lulu Shapiro has mastered Flash, a Snapchat-like app that shares her perfectly edited life with 10,000 followers. But a racy Flash, meant to be private, accidentally goes public, and now everyone has seen Lulu being intimate with another young woman. Her classmates think she just did it for attention, but Lulu is bisexual and fears what sharing this truth about herself could mean for her popularity. Then Lulu meets the beguiling Cass and her friend Ryan, a trust-fund kid refurbishing an old hotel. With no phones allowed at the hotel, Lulu experiences a social life less focused on carefully curated images. She feels like she can truly be herself—until an abuse of trust brings it all crashing down. Anyone who has engaged in content creation—even just photos on Instagram—will have a lot to chew on regarding the praise and scorn women experience based on how they depict themselves. The cast of characters is almost entirely teens, but older readers will take a lot from Look as well. Self-commodification hardly started with Snapchat, after all.
For readers ready to ride a wave of emotion
In 2010, following her divorce, Diane Cardwell finds herself shuffling listlessly through her life and work as a New York Times reporter. Casting about for an assignment, she heads out to Montauk, Long Island, and spies a group of surfers out in the shimmering surf. Transfixed by this group of men and women, she begins trekking out to Rockaway Beach from her Brooklyn apartment to take lessons and join her newfound troop. Cardwell dives into surfing, alternating between fear of failure and dogged determination. As she gains confidence and develops her own style, she moves to Rockaway Beach, buys a little cottage and a board and thrives in her new neighborhood. When Hurricane Sandy hits in 2012, she rides it out in Rockaway with some of her friends, and they emerge as an even more tightknit community. In Rockaway, Cardwell’s moving story washes over the reader with its emotionally rich portrayal of the ragged ways we can embrace our vulnerabilities in order to overcome them.
—Henry L. Carrigan Jr.