In Eva Woods' new book, Something Like Happy, Annie Hebden is mired in a state of gray. Only when she encounters colorful, exuberant Polly Leonard at the hospital does Annie make daily tiny changes that break her out of the muck and steers her toward a happier life. But Polly herself has her own problems and desperately needs a friend like Annie.
At once heartwarming and heartbreaking, Something Like Happy will make readers rethink what's truly important.
Eva Woods spoke with us about Something Like Happy and the small but important ways we can bring more light and joy into our daily lives.
Amazon Book Review: What inspired you to write this novel about a woman struggling to find happiness after her life has collapsed into a downward spiral?
Eva Woods: I’d been in a similar situation myself a few years back, where I felt I’d lost everything and was really at rock bottom. I noticed a few friends doing the #100HappyDays challenge online and was a bit cynical at first, but then I started to wonder what it might be like if someone did that when they were really sad and angry, if it could make a difference at all.
Did you do the #100HappyDays project yourself? If so, what were some of the little happy moments that you still recall?
I’m actually doing it now on my Instagram account! I spend a lot of my time writing at home, so I find that because of the challenge, I’m now making an effort to get out to the gym, read a book in the park, have a slice of cake in a café—those kind of small things that make you a little bit happier.
Your character Polly Leonard embraces the best parts of life every day, but she herself is dealing with a major event, as the reader will discover. Do you think that people tend to embrace seeking happiness after they’ve lost it or when they realize they are in danger of losing it?
Definitely—it’s a fact of human nature that we can’t possibly live life to the fullest all the time (if you tried, you’d never pay your taxes or clean the bathroom), and it often takes a little reminder to see how fortunate we really are. Things like the #100HappyDays challenge can help with that.
Your novel is titled Something Like Happy in the U.S. and How to Be Happy in the U.K. Why the difference?
The US publishers felt that it was a bit too much like a self-help title and might confuse people, so they decided to change it, while the UK preferred its original working title. This actually seems to be fairly common!
For readers who are inspired by your novel to find happiness, what do you suggest as next steps?
I’ve found meditation to be very helpful, and I’m also a big fan of life/bucket lists, as well as the #100HappyDays project, of course. It’s a very small way to start, which doesn’t take much effort, and it helps you be grateful and enjoy your life day to day. What I would also say is look at what’s making you unhappy—a job, a commute, a relationship—and maybe take some steps to change those things. When I look back now at bad situations I’ve been in, I only wish I’d had the courage to change them sooner.
And what’s next for you, writing-wise?
I’m about to do the edits on the follow-up to Something Like Happy, which also deals with someone who’s hit rock bottom and also has an interesting narrative structure. Then it’s time to think of the idea for the book after that one!
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- Capturing Light Amidst the Darkness: Ayobami Adebayo on "Stay with Me"
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