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Reasons to Be Happy [NOOK Book]


"Gripping! I was instantly swept away by Hannah's struggles and greatly inspired by her journey. This is a powerful book, and I recommend it for anyone who has ever worried about how to fit in."
-Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites


21. Cat purr vibrating through your ...

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Reasons to Be Happy

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"Gripping! I was instantly swept away by Hannah's struggles and greatly inspired by her journey. This is a powerful book, and I recommend it for anyone who has ever worried about how to fit in."
-Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites


21. Cat purr vibrating through your skin
22. Jumping on a trampoline in the rain
23. Raw cookie dough
24. Getting yourself all freaked out after a scary movie
25. Dancing like an idiot when no one is watching

What happened to the girl who wrote those things? I miss that girl. She used to be bold and fun. Now she's a big chicken loser.
How could so much change so fast?
Let's see, you could be the plain Jane daughter of two gorgeous famous people, move to a new school, have no real friends, and your mom could get sick, and, oh yeah, you could have the most embarrassing secret in the world.
Yep, that about does it.
So, the real question is, how do I get that girl back?

Praise for The Blessings of the Animals:
"With subtle yet shimmering insight, Kittle explores the resilience of human nature."

Praise for The Kindness of Strangers:
"Kittle crafts a disturbing but compelling story...gripping read."-Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—Hannah used to have many reasons to be happy; so many, in fact, that she kept an ongoing list. That was before she moved to a new school and before her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hannah's new circle is not what she envisioned; the mean-girl clique disdains her two passions, running and art. Overwhelmed by her unhappy school situation, her mother's illness, and her belief that she is extremely ordinary compared to her Academy Award-nominated actor parents, the eighth grader becomes bulimic. Her initial weight loss is praised by her unsuspecting parents and her crush, but Hannah finds it increasingly difficult to purge. With many aspects of life spiraling out of control, she accompanies her aunt, a documentary filmmaker, to Ghana, where she somewhat predictably yet touchingly has a life-changing experience. Although there are many issues at play in this novel, they are all realistically drawn. Only toward the end of the story, with the addition of the Academy Awards presentation, do the multiple dramas threaten to overwhelm it. Subplots involving a clique member with a mentally challenged brother and another with cutting issues are underdeveloped. The tension and conflict between Hannah and her father is palpable. Bulimia's emotional toll is honestly portrayed, with authentically rendered scenes involving frenetic binging, purging, and food theft. With minor shortcomings, this is an honest and open story of overcoming enormous challenges. While Hannah's struggles are not over, readers can believe that she has an excellent chance of overcoming her traumas.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA
Hannah Anne Carlisle keeps a list of the things that make her happy. Or, at least, she used to. Hannah, living in L.A. with her movie star parents, stops adding to her happy list when her mom's battles with cancer and constant pressure from her classmates start to overwhelm her. In an attempt to cope, Hannah turns to bulimia. Although her physical sickness brings to light the severity of her situation, the loss of her happiness and self-worth are at the root of her problems. Kittle, a former middle-grade teacher who witnessed the struggles that mercilessly bombard young girls, pulls the reader through the numbing abyss of an eating disorder and back along the slow, empowering journey to overcome it. Hannah's believability as a character as well as the realistic, painful depiction of bulimia make this a standout.
Reclusive Bibliophile
Middle school is hard enough without being the daughter of two celebrities. Eighth grader Hannah's parents are actors, and her aunt creates award-winning documentaries. The expectations seem pretty high in a family of "perfect" people. Hannah feels constant pressure to be "perfect," too. Though her mom says, "pretty is as pretty does," she still feels an underlying push to be physically beautiful. When her mom dies, though, Hannah turns to bulimia—her secret remedy—for support. Her eating disorder spirals out of control until her aunt, who previously suffered with anorexia, takes her to Ghana while working on a new movie. In Ghana, Hannah gains a more global perspective, discovering that ideals of beauty can be very different from one person and place to the next. Hannah's journey is ultimately about about finding your authentic self even in the most difficult circumstances, and finding people who will support you for that self. Cliche as it may be, Katrina Kittle emphasizes that beauty is what is on the inside. Kittle's Reasons to Be Happy veers to the lower end of YA, bordering on MG, as it can feel a bit simplistic at times. However, it does not shy away from the harsh realities of binging and purging, painting a graphic portrait of bulimia for young readers who are likely struggling with their own body image.
VOYA - Jane Murphy
Hannah Carlisle is no typical eighth grader. Her parents are both Hollywood actors, and measuring up to their success presents many challenges to a young teen. When Hannah is enrolled in a posh private school, her world begins to change. Artistically inclined, Hannah creates miniature cities out of found and collected objects, creating "a world where everything is okay, where everything is the way it should be." Hannah also creates a world within her purple "Reasons to Be Happy" notebook. Her lists are visual, tactile, and sensory representations of teenage longing and yearning; they are metaphors for all that she desires in life. Hannah responds to the pressure cooker within her school's social circle of shallow, body-image—obsessed students by beginning to purge. This, her "Secret Remedy," makes her feel better and more alive just as her mother begins to fade away and succumbs to cancer. As her mother's death nears, purging becomes full blown bulimia. The descriptions of this eating disorder are accurate and compelling. Hording, shoplifting, and other behaviors escalate, spinning out of control. After her mother's death, Hannah's aunt, Izzy, a documentary filmmaker, takes her to Ghana, where her interaction with cultural differences, poverty, and a crash course in reality give her the perspective she needs to move on in her life. She returns from her rite of passage to a healthier and loving life in California. Kittle's writing may be a bit too young for older high school students, but it is worthy of a read by middle schoolers on the threshold of the issues facing teens today. It would make excellent bibliotherapy for guidance counselors to implement with their young students. Reviewer: Jane Murphy
Kirkus Reviews

This frank tale follows a girl's journey of healing as she recovers from an eating disorder.

Hannah's actor parents' rising-star status necessitates relocating from Ohio to the epicenter of celebrity life: LA. At her new school, Hannah encounters the B-Squad—the reigning trio of eighth-grade girls, who sit in judgment on all things hip. Suddenly, all that Hannah loves to do—running track, her art work—is deemed uncool. In the wake of this upheaval and the devastating news of her mother's terminal-cancer diagnosis, Hannah turns to her Secret Remedy—bulimia.Kittlescrutinizes how negative peer opinion can wreak havoc on a young teen's fragile self-esteem. Her sometimes graphically detailed and unflinching portrayal of bulimia explores the insidious way it can overtake a person's life both physically and emotionally. When Hannah's illness spirals out of control, Aunt Izzy, a documentary filmmaker and recovered anorexic, intervenes. Izzy takes Hannah to Africa, where she is documenting the plight of the country's orphans. Through her travels and experiences, Hannah gains a new perspective on the notion of beauty and friendship. The rather contrived healing and happy ending do not undercut the emotional intensity of Hannah's journey.

With a forthright intensity, Kittle's taleexamines a complex subject. (Fiction. 13-16)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402260216
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 164,050
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Katrina Kittle
Katrina Kittle's reasons to be happy include 1:) her overflowing garden in Dayton, OH 2.) her fat cat Joey 3.) coffee 4.) dark chocolate 5.) zombie movies and 6.) starting every morning in her writing office doing what she loves most. She once had a goat under her bed in Ghana.
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Read an Excerpt

Reasons to Be Happy:
1. Swimming with dolphins
2. Outrunning a forest f ire
3. A hot air balloon ride
4. Seeing a shark fin while surfing but making it back to the shore intact
5. Hiking by moonlight
I used to be brave.
What happened to the girl who wrote those things? The girl who left the house that morning all excited about her f irst day of eighth grade at a new school? That girl who got up way too early and flipped through her sequined purple notebook where she keeps a list of things that are good in life- things like:
20. The smell of Band-Aids
21. Cat purr vibrating through your skin
22. Hiking with Dad up on Arroyo Seco and seeing a mountain lion at dusk
23. Vampires
24. Playing with the rubbery residue after you let glue dry on your f ingers
How could so much change so fast in just one day?
Scratch that. Stupid question. Besides, it wasn't really a day. It was a summer. How could they change so fast over one summer? Let's see, you could move to a new school, be totally humiliated, have no real friends, and oh, yeah, your mom could get cancer.
Yep, that about does it. That would explain the changes. So, the harder question is: how do I get that girl back? That girl who saw so many reasons to be happy that she started to keep a list:
6. Making lists
7. Jumping on a trampoline in the rain
8. Ghost stories
9. Painting your toenails
10. Winning a race
11. Dark chocolate melting in your mouth
12. Pad thai so spicy hot it makes your nose run
I missed that girl. She used to be bold and fun. Then she became a big chicken loser. "There goes Hannah," Aunt Izzy used to say (okay, her name is really Isabelle but everyone calls her Izzy), "jumping in with both feet."
Aunt Izzy is my mom's sister. She lives in Ohio (where she and my mom grew up) in a funky purple house in this hippie town called Yellow Springs (Aunt Izzy's purple house is reason #28 on the list). Aunt Izzy makes documentary f ilms. I know, I know, documentary f ilms sound boring, but she makes good ones. Her last one won an Academy Award. My mom and dad are actors. They've never won Academy Awards, even though both of them have been nominated. They make their living in feature f ilms, which is why we live all the way in Los Angeles now.
Aunt Izzy said I "jumped in with both feet" like it was a compliment, like it was good and brave. (Which reminds me, running hurdles when you hit your stride just right is #56.) My mom, though, said I jump in with both feet like it's a very, very bad thing. "You don't have any fear," she said with this look of exasperation. But that was before I became afraid of everything. I hesitated too long before I jumped. I waited, paralyzed, thinking of all the bad things that could happen,
until the moment was gone. It was like, once I stopped risking, I lost the ability.
Like that day, my disaster of a f irst day-I hesitated too long. I let the wrong things gain momentum and there was no way to stop the avalanche.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012


    The best book i have ever read unending plot and so much drama

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Honest and Hopeful - A Must for Middle School Libraries

    4.5 - A must for middle school libraries

    We all have our reasons to be happy, things that make us smile or brighten our days, but Hannah Carlisle has a notebook full of them. A notebook that is supposed to help her when times get rough. Only her reasons aren't enough. Her pain is deep, her loss monumental, her emotions raw. Hannah Carlisle will wander into the hearts of readers, burrow herself there, and force us to confront every unsettling, upsetting, and beautiful thing about this eighth grader and her journey to find herself again.

    Katrina Kittle implicitly understands the young adult mind. Hannah is an insecure eight grader who questions everything about herself. She doesn't want to be scared, she doesn't want to be bulimic, but she doesn't know how to change it. Kittle's take on bulimia, the way she calls it a disgusting monster and handles Hannah's situation more than realistically, is the perfect way to express such a prevalent issue with teens, with anyone.

    Hannah is superbly fleshed out, with a family, hopes, dreams, and upsets. Each of her 'reasons to be happy' help to see just a little more into the girl that she was and the girl that she's trying to find again. Not only can any young girl relate to Hannah, but anyone will like her, care about her, and hope with every fiber of their being that she's strong enough, that she has the right support system, to get through everything.

    Reasons To Be Happy isn't lighthearted and bubbly. It isn't a glimpse into the picture perfect life of a child born of two actors. It's a devastating portrayal of a delightful girl who loses herself, but is strong enough and stubborn enough to not stay lost. It's heartbreaking and will affect its middle grade audience, but also any person who has ever felt lost, alone, or confused.

    My most favorite thing about the book isn't even Hannah's reasons - though they are superb - or her family - who I couldn't help but love - it's that her struggle is just that, a struggle. One doesn't just get rid of an eating disorder, just as one doesn't simply kick a bad habit or get over an addiction. You have to fight for it. And Katrina Kittle made me feel like I fought for it with Hannah. We fought, we cried, we hurt, but we're still here. And that's what matters most.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    You should read this book

    I liked it so much i read in 2 days!! It made you think a lot about how thankful we should be for our health and our family's health. With my faith in the holy spirit, it made me think about how much i am thankful for god making me so healthy!! THANK U GOD! AND READ THIS BOOK!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    I reccomend it!

    This was such a great read! Very inspirational and made me think a lot about my own little world.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2012


    I love this book. It is funny abd cool. Im gonna buy it its so awesome. You people out there should so read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2013

    I love this book so far

    Im a little more than halfway done and it is so good. I cant tak my eyes off it. I cant even sleep well at night cuz im reading so much. I hate brooke and kevin but love jasper. Hes my favorite character. And this book really got me into wanting to learn more about bulimia. Before i read this i didnt know what bulimia was. I only knew demi lovato was bulimic. Its so sad, a terrible thing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    Pretty darn good!

    This book is good...kinda confusing at first but you caught on quickly, but goes rather quickly. I started my own reasons to be happy book so i guess you could call it inspirational.

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    Posted October 26, 2011

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    Posted May 26, 2012

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    Posted December 26, 2011

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    Posted December 25, 2011

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    Posted March 15, 2012

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    Posted November 18, 2011

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