You Make Me Happy by Ed Seeberger
In a world full of fairy tales, the misfits and outcasts of the world are often left without relatable characters to shape their own love stories after. The characters in Ed Seeberger’s You Make Me Happy are socially awkward, physically disabled, or ambitious to a fault, but love and companionship all manage to find them, with a few bumps in the road. The book follows the determined and motivated Sharina Milani as she heads to the University of Washington, a step in her ultimate plan to attend medical school. She meets smart and sweet science whiz/teaching assistant Wally Jenkins, whose life experiences makes it hard for him to connect; his foil is the popular, well-moneyed Michael Berenbaum, always aggressively pushing for Sharina’s affection, physical and otherwise, as she remains uninterested. While Wally’s social awkwardness continue to cause friction and misunderstandings with Sharina, the overzealous Michael puts her in danger in more ways than one.
The characters are so real to the author that he has even included illustrations; delightful, bright images that add dimension to his descriptions of the characters, and pop up in moments of great change or growth of feelings in the narrative. Washington itself plays a prominent role in the story, and Wally and Sharina’s trip to Mount Ranier National Park is an emotional high point for their relationship, as well as a love letter to the pines and peaks of the state. However, as Michael becomes the story’s antagonist, his actions become a bit too villainous to be believable. Too many loose ends are left frayed as the book comes to a close, and it leaves the reader without a satisfying conclusion. Nonetheless, there’s still plenty of joy to be found following the characters of Seeberger’s book as they search for meaningful connections.
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