Being the biggest fan of Claire Kann ever since Let’s Talk About Love I knew I had to read If It Makes You Happy. It’s definitely different than I was expecting, but in a really fabulous way.
High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”
Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
If you weren’t convinced that Kann has a knack for characters, then If It Makes You Happy will certainly convince you. Winnie has a big heart, does things for the right reasons (if they aren’t the best course of action), and is one of those characters you instantly like. Whether Winnie’s dedication to her family, her own personal growth to stick to what she believes in, or her entanglements with love, If It Makes You Happy will stick with you.
The winning feature of If It Makes You Happy is Winnie’s personality. She’s gluten free, fat, queer, black, and is not afraid to say what she means. One of the biggest part of the book is how Winnie deals with how people perceive her body – her relatives, strangers, her doctors – and I found this aspect of the book genuine and wonderful to read. Since I’m not an ownvoices reviewer for any of Winnie’s identities, I can’t comment on how authentic it is.
Winnie navigates her own journey with her heart – trying to accommodate all the people in her life she cares about. Whether it be her ungirlfriend (sometimes defined as queerplatonic), or her crush, all Winnie demands is honesty and communication. Watching her deal with both betrayal, new challenges, and animosity was a fabulous way for us to appreciate relationships of all constellations which are founded on the basis of communication and trust (polyamory coming at you!).
Family & Personal Growth
(I forgot to mention that I ADORED the sibling relationship between Winnie and her brother – talk about supportive, full of their inner jokes, and the ways they love each other)
However, I related to Winnie’s connection to her family – her role as both the peacemaker, but also her growth into someone who fights for her family – even when it goes against some of her family members. Her journey of personal growth, tied to her family’s expectations and desires, was emotional to read. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we cannot make everyone happy, keep the peace, without giving up pieces of ourselves – and that shouldn’t be a sacrifice anyone should make.
About the Author
Claire Kann is the author of LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE and an award-winning online storyteller. In her other life, she works for a nonprofit that you may have heard of where she daydreams like she’s paid to do it. Find out more by visiting her website: www.clairekann.com (and while you’re there, tell her about your cats. She loves cats. A lot.)