How To Be Happy

I borrowed David Burton's memoir How To Be Happy from the library for the Convent book group, as next month's theme is Non-Fiction.

How To Be Happy, winner of the Text Prize, is funny, wry, engaging and honest. Reading it also made me feel very anxious. It took me straight back to my own adolescent and young adult struggles with anxiety and depression, and forced me to face the fact that my daughters are also in the thick of those difficult years and may well have a similar experience. Not comfortable reading.

But I think this is a valuable book. It reassures us that there is help available, that hard times and grief can be survived, that friends are important and families can endure. David Burton is now a playwright in Brisbane and in a loving relationship (at least he was when the book was written). He is still young; he may not be out of the woods yet.

I hated being young. It wasn't the best time of my life, it was the most miserable, the most uncertain, stressful and painful time. I wouldn't go back there for quids. Maybe that's why I write for kids and young people, because when I was young, books were my lifeline, my escape, and the promise that there was more to life than confusion, fear and sadness. Wow, that got dark quickly -- I didn't mean it to! And How To Be Happy is not a dark book, though it touches on some dark material; it ends on a promise of hope. Read it.

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