“A lot of life, it seemed to Holly, was turning out to be just like that. You keep walking, and you keep breathing, and then one day you notice, again, the feel of the wind on your cheek.” (Page 275)
Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn focuses on the life of Holly Frick and each of the people she effects with her decisions and how their decisions impact her life in a gigantic web. From Holly’s ex-boyfriend Spence Samuelson to Betsy Silverstein and her friends Amanda and Mark to her screenwriter/partner Leonard. Each of these characters is dissatisfied with their current lives and is seeking happiness and contentment in their lives.
“It was probably, primarily, mostly, the chemical hair straightening. Leonard had spent four hundred dollars to get his hair straightened with the new Brazilian hair-straightening chemical, and now it clung to his head like a wet washcloth and then spiked out at the ends down at the top of his neck, which was huge, due to the steroids he got from a pharmacist who ran an underground steroid ring out of his fourth-floor walk-up on Christopher Street.” (Page 25)
Dunn has a great talent for description and character development. Secrets to Happiness delves into the various situations, emotions, friends, careers, and other elements in people’s lives that they believe make them happy. Each of these characters experiences turns their preconceived notions upside down, leaving Holly, Spence, Betsy, and Amanda to make pivotal decisions.
“‘I don’t tell Betsy about my personal life.’
‘Good. You know what? Don’t tell anybody. Let’s just keep this our little secret,’ said Holly. ‘And now I even sound like a child molester.’
‘That’s straight out of the handbook.’
‘Page eleven,’ said Holly. ‘Right after the part where I lure you back into the back of my van with a box of kittens.'” (Page 21)
Overall, Secrets to Happiness reads well with a modicum of interruption from narratives that scope farther back into the lives of the characters. While some of these narratives, which mirror background checks for the characters, are well written, readers could find them distracting and unnecessary. Dunn is a talented women’s fiction writer with a flare for dramatic and unconventional characters, and her ability to dig beneath the surface of these professional New Yorkers is uncanny.
Also Reviewed by:
Everyday I Write the Book Blog
Hachette Group was kind enough to offer 3 copies of Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn to 3 of Savvy Verse & Wit’s U.S. and/or Canadian readers; no P.O. Boxes.
1. Leave a comment on this post about what makes you happiest about your life.
2. Become a follower of the blog or if you follow, let me know.
3. Blog, tweet, or spread the word about the giveaway and leave me a link here.
Deadline is June 18, 2009, at 11:59 PM EST
Don’t forget my 2-Year Blogiversary Giveaway, go here for details.