Having absolutely adored Me, Moth, I knew I had to read McBride’s latest. This one felt a bit more nebulous – in terms of fantasy – than the first. However, We Are All So Good at Smiling explores the darkness of the forest, mental illness, and friendship. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Whimsy is back in the hospital for treatment of clinical depression. When she meets a boy named Faerry, she recognizes they both have magic in the marrow of their bones. And when Faerry and his family move to the same street, the two start to realize that their lifelines may have twined and untwined many times before.
They are both terrified of the forest at the end of Marsh Creek Lane.
The Forest whispers to Whimsy. The Forest might hold the answers to the part of Faerry he feels is missing. They discover the Forest holds monsters, fairy tales, and pain that they have both been running from for 11 years.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: racism, depression, self-harm, suicide attempt
We Are All So Good at Smiling is an emotional and complex story from start to finish. Revolving around Whimsy, this story in verse is about the cyclical nature of depression and our family. Walking on eggshells and having to process protection and love. All the questions of how we are feeling, if we’re okay. At the same time, it’s a story about finding someone who can see us. Who can make us see and think.
I mentioned that the fantasy in We Are All So Good at Smiling – which like, what an excellent thoughtful title – is more nebulous. How smiling becomes a performance. Something we do to hide how we feel, that fake politeness and feeling. But as the story progresses, it gains shape, danger, and teeth. If you’re comparing it to Me, Moth I think the nature of the fantasy, with a heavy dose of mystery, begins faster. The line between what we see before our eyes, what we are reading, begins to blur.
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Roses and thorns morphing into one. Stories which craft gardens. We Are All So Good at Smiling is about the wisdom and fear from stories. The powers and voices that can be found there. It explores deeply mental health, the perception of ourselves and our journey, and the treatment from friends and family. Find We Are All So Good at Smiling on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org, & The Book Depository.