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Get Happy


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About the Author

Mary Amato is an award-winning children's book author, songwriter, musician, puppeteer, and poet. She writes for children of all ages, and is beginning to focus on YA. Mary lives with her family outside Washington, DC, where she also performs regularly, singing and playing her own songs. Mary is a popular speaker and runs numerous workshops for teachers and students, including many on all aspects of creative writing, even songwriting. The author lives in Silver Spring, MD.


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"Following her sixteenth birthday breakfast, complete with another clueless gift from her mother, Minerva Watson is capturing her latest song lyric when FedEx delivers an envelope. Noting that the return address is local in Chicago and the sender's initials are K. C.--her father, a man she has not seen or heard from since she was two years old--Min stuffs the envelope in her backpack. With an afterschool work audition her best friend, Finnegan, finagled her into, she has little time to think about the gift, especially with the appearance of Hayes Martinelli, the guy with 'just the right size dimples, ' at the audition. Last to arrive is tall, gorgeous Cassie Lott, who has 'potential star' written all over her. All four are hired to be Get Happy entertainers for children's parties, and the income from the job allows Min to buy the ukulele she has been eyeing. Min reads Cassie's blog, but when she sees comments from the man she suspects is her father, Min begins leaving anonymous mean comments on the blog, something that makes her feel badly about herself. Min's conflicting emotions come to a head when she discovers what her mother has been hiding all these years.

"Combining a gentle mix of two creative friends with the pain of not knowing a parent, the insecurity of not being good enough, and just the right amount of romance and silliness, Get Happy is an easy read that will be enjoyed by young readers of realistic fiction." --VOYA


"This book revolves around a teenager who is looking for her long-lost father. For her 16th birthday, Minerva wants a ukulele from her mother and instead she gets an ugly sweater. A package arrives from the father she has never known and Minerva has to decide if she wants to get to know him on her own terms. Throw in a best friend who helps Minerva get a job dressing up as a mermaid for children's birthday parties, and a romantic interest with a rival, and you have a typical YA novel. However, this novel is well-written with characters that are believable and a main character that is enjoyable; the reader will root for Minerva. Recommended." --Library Media Connection


"A poignant tale of a teen attempting to find herself. When Minerva Watson turns 16, she receives a beautiful necklace that appears to be from the father she believes abandoned her years ago, a gift that triggers long-buried feelings of sorrow and anger. Meanwhile, she and her best friend, Finn, are keeping busy with a weekend job hosting children's birthday parties, where she grapples with her attraction to another coworker, Hayes, and her resentment for the effortlessly gorgeous Cassie. Though secondary characters are sketchily drawn, tending toward stock types (the encouraging best friend, the seemingly perfect girl who has it all, the overworked single mother), they're engaging. While Minerva has some unattractive qualities at times (such as her jealousy), they make her realistic and relatable. Despite some flaws, she's also endearingly quirky and full of drama, willing to burst into song at a moment's notice. Amato skillfully balances Minerva's angst with plenty of light, fun bits, such as her interactions with Hayes and her trips to the music store to visit the ukulele she longs for. Though the book explores a heavy, fraught situation, the prose is light and the ending optimistic. Some readers may be frustrated with the lack of closure, as quite a bit is left unresolved. Overall, however, this is a moving, charged tale of family and identity. Hand it to fans of Sara Zarr, Sarah Dessen, or Zooey Deschanel." --School Library Journal


"On her 16th birthday, not only does Minerva Watson not get the gift she wanted, she receives an unwanted gift--from her estranged father. Minerva doesn't know much about her father--her mother has kept mysteriously mum--but she does know he abandoned them when she was 2. Writing song lyrics has been a great outlet for her, but Minerva needs one more thing: an instrument. Despite numerous dropped hints to her mother about a ukulele, she receives a cardigan instead. But when her mother's out of the room, a FedEx package arrives from her father. Shaken and worried that her mother might see it, she quickly stashes it in her backpack, later to open it at school. With a puzzling accompanying card, the birthday gift--a silver sea horse necklace--turns out to be a clue to her father's identity. Meanwhile, she and her jocular best friend, Fin, land jobs with Get Happy, a company that provides costumed entertainment for children's birthday parties. Minerva's life unexpectedly intertwines with those of the two other teenage employees: dimpled, nonconformist Hayes and the ultrabeautiful Cassie. While Fin and Minerva begin to unravel the surprising mystery about her father, an ever widening gap grows between her and her mother. Veteran Amato skillfully infuses her tale with moments of teenage angst, jealousy, disenchantment, humor and love. Hits a deep, sweet resonating note." --Kirkus Reviews


"Minerva isn't entirely surprised that her mom didn't get her the ukulele she so desperately wanted for her sixteenth birthday. After all, birthdays have been a disappointment since her father left the family when she was a baby. But what is shocking was the confusing package she receives from her dad after all this time. Her life is complicated enough now that she's landed a new job performing at children's parties along with her hysterical best friend, a cute fellow classmate, and an insufferable new girl in town. Adding a long-lost father into the mix would be just too much. How could she possibly forge a relationship with him now, after so much time has passed? But the deeper she digs into her past, the more she realizes that the story she's been told about her family isn't totally true. Amato (Guitar Notes, 2012) once again strums a clever, heartfelt, and realistic story sure to appeal to musical tweens. Lyrics and chords for some of Minerva's original tunes are included." --Booklist


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