Whose happiness is this?

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This is Happiness is the story of a naïve, impressionable, and misunderstood young lady, Tatum, who seeks attention and validation from her literary crush, Mateo. Blinded by his perceived brilliance, Tatum accepted him despite his blatant and reckless disregard for her.

Although readers can quickly recognize the power imbalance and instability in the relationship, they accompany Tatum in her malaise for a decade. The narrative's pacing mirrors Tatum's entrapment and creates a sense of engagement as the reader longs for her to develop a sense of agency. Tatum's regular literary references and analyses provide a much-needed respite from bearing witness to her stagnant life. They also serve as a reminder of the brilliance she is wasting.

During my reading journey, I was worried about how low Mateo would sink before Tatum broke free from his hold over her. His final act of betrayal was as dastardly as I anticipated but necessary to prompt her to move on finally.

Overall, the novel offers a thought-provoking, sometimes slow-burn, examination of power imbalances in relationships. This four-star debut novel will appeal to readers who enjoy introspective character studies, complex relationships, and literary themes.

Many thanks to Celadon Books for an Advanced Reader Copy of This is Happiness in exchange for an honest review.