Get Happy by Mary Amato

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Egmont, 2014. ISBN 9781606845226
(Age: 13+) Adolescent. Humour. Music. Coming of age. 16 year old budding song writer Minerva really wants a ukulele for her birthday, but her mother buys her an ugly designer jumper, when she really was only interested in vintage clothes. She decides to work at the Get Happy Company that specialised in parties for children with her friend Fin to raise money to pay for the ukulele, but discovers that wearing a hideous mermaid costume doesn't always mean that the kids are entertained. Meanwhile the father who had abandoned her when she was two has sent a beautiful birthday present and it appears that her mother has been keeping secrets about him for years.
As Minerva negotiates the problems associated with her mother, does her best to entertain unlikeable children at birthday parties and makes new friends, the reader is carried along by her narrative, which is often very humorous. She develops as a person as she discovers the father that she has not had any contact with, and begins to understand the outcomes of the depth of her mother's love.
All the characters are really well developed. Fin is a fantastic friend, Hayes is interesting and the parents are well rounded individuals that the reader feels they know.
Although the story is light hearted and very easy to read, some big themes are handled here. The plight of a child in a single parent family, the fear of a mother losing her child and the desire of an estranged father to get to know his daughter are all played out against a realistic background.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read; a feel good book that is sure to raise the spirits of its readers.
Pat Pledger