Every Shade of Happy is a heartwarming story about independence and familial relationships. The main character Algernon is 97 years old, lives alone with his cat who he aptly named Cat, and is very set in his routine. He is a widow with one daughter Helene whom he has an estranged relationship with. When Helene and her daughter Anna find themselves in a need of a place to stay, Algernon reluctantly agrees to let them move in with him. Now they are all under the same roof and will forever be changed.
Prior to her life being uprooted, 15 year old Anna had never met her grandfather. When her mother was pregnant, she had a falling out with her father, and though him to be an uptight controlling man. Algernon thought Helene was too flighty and when she became pregnant, he felt like she had forever ruined her life. Anna has only heard about this tense dynamic from her mothers point of view but, her first interaction with her grandfather further cements her negative opinion of him.
Algernon has no idea what to do with this young girl who is now in his life. Anna enjoys brightness and colors and adventure which is not something Algernon has had in his life for years. Yet, the more time they spend together, the start realize they have more in common than they originally thought. I adored the dynamic between these characters. They both have experiences a deep loneliness in their lives and these feelings of being an outsider in society help bond them together. The chapters alternate in perspective which I liked because you learned the background of each of them and what they bring to their relationship.
As this is an intergenerational story, there is a strong focus on what the three individuals from three different generations bring to the family and their relationships. Helene really isn’t sure what to think about the bond that is forming between father and daughter. She is also building and finding herself. The characterizations of all the characters is just so good. They are layered and feel real with flaws. They are all likable characters, and I also liked the friendship of Anna and the boy next door named Jacob. It was just the right amount of sweetness with a hint of young romance.
I became very attached to these characters and their growth as individuals and as a familial unit. This is a story filled with moments that will make you laugh and memories that will break your heart. Especially with Algernon – such a sweet cantankerous man. Everything that has happened to these characters has helped bring them to the place they are now in. I love how they come together, learn about each other, learn from each other, and grow. It’s so beautiful.
Every Shade of Happy has so much heart to it. This is more than just a story about a young girl breaking down the walls of her grandfather. It is a story of second chances, trusting yourself, learning from the past, and embracing the future. There are just so many layers for both the story and the characters. This will be a real hidden gem for readers.
Rating: 5 Stars
**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**