The Pursuit of Happiness
These are the real five stages of grief: agitation, intoxication, experimentation, resignation, and reinvigoration.
Betsy knows that her summer job at a colonial village is going to ruin whatever slim chance she has of ever being popular. To make matters worse, Liza Henske, only the biggest freak from school-piercings, tattoos, you name it-works at the village, too. But when Betsy’s mother dies, playing farm girl starts to feel like a great escape . . . from her shattered family, from the boyfriend who dumps her, from the friend group that goes poof.
Fortunately, Liza turns out not to be such a freak after all. And James-a lanky surfer who works at the village-has started carving Betsy things out of wood. Being with him is the only thing that makes her feel normal these days. That, and cutting images out of black paper like colonial silhouette artists did, which she knows must seem strange, but life seems very black and white lately . . . except for things with James, which are a million shades of gray.
Praise for The Pursuit of Happiness
“It’s hard to imagine this book being more enjoyable. The characters are vivid and complex; they grow over the course of the story and never feel like cliches. Betsy’s grief feels real without overwhelming her other emotions. The smooth writing and careful plotting will keep readers interested even if they may guess how it will end. This is a strong debut novel that cries out for a sequel.” — KLIATT
“A dreamlike evocation of friendship and romance, and how tragedy can be transformed into art. Like Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever, The Pursuit of Happiness deals insightfully with love and loss” — Alex McAulay, author of Bad Girls
“A truly moving account of what it’s like to lose a parent as an adolescent, told in a voice that’s as winning as it is authentic.”
— Owen King, author of We’re All In This Together.
“Tara Altebrando’s first young adult novel is insightful, moving, and addictively readable.. . . Betsy tells us her story in the present tense, which gives it a sense of youthful immediacy, and her Flaming Lips references and clever uses of the word supersized lend it the ring of adolescent authenticity. In the end, all the little pieces of Betsy’s life that summer come together in a way that’s hopeful but not Brady-perfect. Satisfying but still realistic: The Pursuit of Happiness walks that tightrope with the greatest of ease.” — Philadelphia Inquirer
“Surprisingly moving….Thinking of [The Pursuit of Happiness] makes my throat feel all lumpy. That’s not the way I thought I would react to a really cute book that fits perfectly in my purse.” — Rachel Mason, Gwinnett Daily Post (GA)
“Three pages into this novel it struck me that Altebrando has a voice much like Sarah Dessen’s – mature but not stuffy – and her characters behave exactly like the kids I remember from high school. I knew at that moment I would like this book, and it turns out I was right… The language in this novel is lovely, deftly weaving a story that in other hands would seem trite. This is Altebrando’s first novel for young adults – she also writes slightly more adult fair under the name Tara McCarthy – but she has the talent to be a real gem in the genre. If you’re even a little bit interested in teen-targeted fiction, The Pursuit of Happiness is a must read.”—Popgurls
“Sad and sweet and funny all at once. Good stuff.” — Sarah Dessen
“Pleasinglycomplex, romantic without being cheesy, and also a wonderful story of family.”— Sara Zarr
“Great summer reading.”— Myshelf.com
“The Pursuit Of Happiness is an amazing story of love, loss, friendship, and, as the title suggests, the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of finding something you’re passionate about. . . . This book, similar to works by Sarah Dessen, details one girl’s very real life and her grief at the loss of her mother. Anyone who has ever lost someone will understand what Betsy is going through, but, if you’re lucky enough not to have suffered a loss this large in your life (few of us have that sort of luck), you’ll still love this book. Powerful and emotional, it chronicles Betsy’s journey from brokenhearted and falling apart to putting the pieces of her life together again – and never forgetting her mother.”— Curled Up With a Good Kid’s Book
“The Pursuit of Happiness is a poignant, heartfelt novel. It’s one of the best books I’ve read dealing with grief, with dialogue that never seems out of place or too cheesy. Ms. Altebrando has written a stunning debut novel that will leave you thinking about the story of Betsy and her family and friends long after you’ve finished the book.” — TeensReadToo.com
“The Pursuit of Happiness is an emotional roller coaster of a story that touches on the highs, lows, and middle points of adolescence. Betsy has a right to her anger and sadness and as she experiments with drinking and boys, she starts to mature and realize that even in her funk, this isn’t the kind of life she wants. You’ll experience every emotion she feels, every tiny bit of reawakening of life. Tara Altebrando has done a fabulous job of making Betsy’s situation relatable to teens and adults alike. I cried, I laughed, I smiled, and I just fell in love with this story. The last sentence truly is phenomenal. You’ll be gripped by this story from the moment you open the pages. Betsy is a likable but realistically portrayed teenager. She’s not perfect and she’s still learning about life. Though geared towards teens, The Pursuit of Happiness is guaranteed to touch you in some way no matter what your age. Death, life, love, and happiness are a lifetime exploration and Betsy deals with these issues the best she can. Impressive and intense, The Pursuit of Happiness is surely the perfect treat to touch your heart. — Romance Junkies
“A touching story of love and loss.” — Bookloons
“Dramatic and engaging… Altebrando infuses her main character with a strong spirit… and readers will cheer her on….This book moves along at a steady pace, with a first-person narrative enabling the reader to get inside Betsy’s head. The coming-of-age tale greatly benefits from the summertime setting. The realistic dialogue will meet the approval of teen and adult readers. Tara Altebrando has written a wonderful tale about love, loss, family, and finding yourself. This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I highly recommend it. If you enjoy The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, The Alison Rules by Catherine Clark, or Good Grief by Lolly Winston, you will undoubtedly enjoy The Pursuit of Happiness.” — Flamingnet Reviews