Imagine Us Happy
Some love stories aren't meant to last. Stella lives with depression, and her goals for junior year are pretty much limited to surviving her classes, staying out of her parents’ constant fights and staving off unwanted feelings enough to hang out with her friends Lin and Katie.Until Kevin. A quiet, wry senior who understands Stella and the lows she’s going through like no one else. With him, she feels less lonely, listened to—and hopeful for the first time since ever…But to keep that feeling, Stella lets her grades go and her friendships slide. And soon she sees just how deep Kevin’s own scars go. Now little arguments are shattering. Major fights are catastrophic. And trying to hold it all together is exhausting Stella past the breaking point. With her life spinning out of control, she’s got to figure out what she truly needs, what’s worth saving—and what to let go.

Imagine Us Happy Details

TitleImagine Us Happy
Author
ReleaseOct 23rd, 2018
PublisherHarlequin Teen
ISBN-139781335015365
Rating
GenreContemporary, Health, Mental Health, Young Adult, Mental Illness

Imagine Us Happy Review

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    It doesn’t feel like I could ever be that off the rails again, even though I’m sure that’s how I felt before everything started going to shit the first time around. I have not emotionally connected to a book this much in… so long. I hate this and love this. Some of you might know that I am really, really into books about 1) depression, and 2) toxic parental relationships, and 3) toxic romantic relationships. This… hit me hard in all three categories. Thank god for how good this was.So before It doesn’t feel like I could ever be that off the rails again, even though I’m sure that’s how I felt before everything started going to shit the first time around. I have not emotionally connected to a book this much in… so long. I hate this and love this. Some of you might know that I am really, really into books about 1) depression, and 2) toxic parental relationships, and 3) toxic romantic relationships. This… hit me hard in all three categories. Thank god for how good this was.So before I get into why I loved this so much, I’ll just mention objective quality and all that? Imagine Us Happy is told out of chronological level, a choice that worked quite well for the story being told; we know from the beginning that this will not end well, but we see the good parts along with the bad. It also works fantastically for conveying Stella as a character; she is so difficult not to connect with and relate to. I will readily admit that a good portion of my enjoyment of this book was that I connected to Stella, as a character, a lot. Stella is dealing with depression and a lack of support system via her parents, which has led her to seek valiation in someone who is dealing with issues but in a very, very unhealthy way. She, meanwhile, is not in a place where she realizes what is going on with her orOkay, bear with me, as this is really rather personal and something I haven’t talked about, but I don’t know how to review this book without talking about this. I was recently in a relationship with someone whom I absolutely believe cared about me, and who had very, very good intentions in pursuing a relationship. The relationship was also, though I didn’t realize it at the time, not good for either of us. And I did not realize it at all because I had not come to terms with my own fear of rejection or perhaps more accurately, as I’ve recently realized, my deep-set fear that I would become an abusive partner.So the relationship stopped being a good place for me to be, and I said nothing about it because I was desperately afraid of hurting them. I became increasingly convinced that any problems with the relationship were not compatibility issues, or their ongoing mental health issues, or anything that impacts a relationship, but my fault. There were times where they contributed to this, but I doubt it would have impacted me at all if not for my own deep-held feeling that I was destined to be a selfish and manipulative person and partner. I tried to push down my own feelings. I isolated myself from both my therapist and my friends because I was unwilling to “talk behind their back,” which began to mean no one in my life - and I do mean no one - knew what was happening in any way. My friends would have told you I seemed perfectly happy, and I got very good at pretending I was, but inside I was not at all. So I think reading this book, in which someone goes through the same thing and they're not villainized for it, meant a lot to me. I really liked that Stella eventually got through the period of the relationship via her best friends, as the support of one of my friends, and later several more, was essentially what got me through that, too. Oh, and I loved her friends - Katie of the dead frog kink and Lin the John Steinbeck fangirl were so fun. Really though, I love that these two characters feel so un-stereotyped; Katie especially immediately read as the hot partier friend, and I completely assumed I knew how she would be characterized. I did not. Katie does not abandon her friends for greener pastures, not even when Stella pushes her away completely. And Lin, despite being the more academic-oriented of the two, does not read like the nerd archetype — she reads as more of the offbeat-english-major type, which does not show up a lot, and she’s not the unpopular member of their friend group. I liked this a lot - especially as she’s Asian, this is a great way of defying that particular stereotype. Yeah, it reeks of weed, and the song “Don’t Stop Believin” has been played four times by 10:30 p.m., but chilling in her kitchen getting buzzed off beer while talking with Lin is not actually that far from my ideal Saturday night. In general, I felt that this book got high school on a level that not a lot of books do? The details of Katie and Lin’s characterization certainly add to this, but it’s the little things, too. Like, there’s a line mentioning the party transitioning to “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls, and I laughed so hard because wow, been there.Also, this quote so easily could have been cringey, but I laughed my ass off because t r u e: “I think it would be great if everyone understood feminism. But let’s be realistic for a minute here. How many dudes were in your class?”“Four,” I say. “Out of?”“Twenty-five,” I admit.“And how many of them were gay?” he asks.I pause. “I plead the fifth.” It’s funny - I sat on this review for so long, and now I think I should probably mention that while writing this part of my review - which took me a month of sitting on, by the way - I was thinking about how much better I am feeling, three months later, and how much that relationship taught me about my own insecurities and my flaws. And I also thought about the other person in that relationship and why we broke up, and I think... we’re both doing better now. And I don’t know if I really wish that for the love interest in this book, but I do wish that for them. And I think I feel better now, about myself, writing this, than I have in seventeen years. It’s a work in progress. But a good one. And this book understood it on a level I don’t think I’ve ever seen. ✨Arc received from the publisher via my local bookstore for an honest review. [ releases: October 2018.] Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
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  • TL
    January 1, 1970
    I received this via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.---Trigger warnings (view spoiler)[talk about toxic relationships, mental health issues, self harm mentioned (hide spoiler)]Well,this was... something.Sounds bad? Good? In-between really. and not. Was this a good novel? YesPerfect? noDid I enjoy myself? Yes.Did I want to shake and sometimes give people a good swift kick? Definitely.Could I see things the way they saw them? Yes.Could I understand? I received this via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.---Trigger warnings (view spoiler)[talk about toxic relationships, mental health issues, self harm mentioned (hide spoiler)]Well,this was... something.Sounds bad? Good? In-between really. and not. Was this a good novel? YesPerfect? noDid I enjoy myself? Yes.Did I want to shake and sometimes give people a good swift kick? Definitely.Could I see things the way they saw them? Yes.Could I understand? From their perspectives, I could see what drew them to each other but so many times I had to put the book down and walk away from it so I could mentally prepare to dive back in.If the author hadn't started the story the way she did, and told it in the way she did... there was a strong possibility I would just checked out on this and moved on to something else. I still almost did a couple times.Did I like or hate the two main characters: Both.What kept me coming back to it was... curiosity I suppose. I was both dreading what would happen next and eager to see what would happen.There was a couple moments I would call Sweet between them, but there were a few times I was uncomfortably reminded of someone in my family (view spoiler)[sister-in-law (hide spoiler)]who is... well, I'll just say immature and leave it there (partly because if I went on about this person, we'd be here all day). Couple parts especially (view spoiler)[Kevin's attitude in the diner and during the health class project... the overreacting and paranoid/jealous parts especially. (hide spoiler)]Now it wouldn't be fair to compare Stella and Kevin's issues to this person I mean and not trying to, just saying from my personal experience... yeah. But anyways:It was a rollercoaster and a trainwreck all rolled into one and very well done. It didn't feel like anything was used as a gimmick to me and I thought the issues were handled with care.Small criticism but sometimes the jumping back and forth in time wasn't really clear and I had to re-read and think for a minute as to where I was at. It didn't pull me out of the story, but it was a bit jarring at times.The final three "conversations" were my favorite part and had me happy/relieved in equal parts. Sparse (right word?) review but I'm not sure what to say here really. Maybe if I can squeeze some more thoughts out of my brain, I'll edit them back in here somewhere :).
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars rounded up. I like that it blew up the trope of two people with mental illness being able to "save" each other, but the story was a little slow. More to come.
  • liz
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from a goodread’s giveaway and I have to say I loved this book. It touched on different issues like toxic relationships, mental health, and the importance of friendship. The story made me laugh, cry, and scream because I became so frustrated. I could relate to the main character so much it was kind of heart-rending but also made me feel... not alone? Anyways, five stars.
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  • Samantha (WLABB)
    January 1, 1970
    In the very beginning of this book, we are told that she doesn't "want to disappoint anyone in search of a happy ending," and she wasn't kidding. This was a toxic love story, and a subtle caveat of how quickly something seemingly beautiful can unravel.• Pro: What stood out for me was how well Yu conveyed the depth of the characters emotions. I really felt the joy and happiness one associates with first love, and how all consuming it can be, as well as the pain and anguish Stella was experiencing In the very beginning of this book, we are told that she doesn't "want to disappoint anyone in search of a happy ending," and she wasn't kidding. This was a toxic love story, and a subtle caveat of how quickly something seemingly beautiful can unravel.• Pro: What stood out for me was how well Yu conveyed the depth of the characters emotions. I really felt the joy and happiness one associates with first love, and how all consuming it can be, as well as the pain and anguish Stella was experiencing as her relationship turned toxic. • Pro: I saw teenaged me in Stella. I was in a relationship that eerily mirrored Stella and Kevin's. I wish I had seen it depicted in a book, when I was teen, and maybe I would have recognized how damaging it was for me back then. • Pro: Considering that this book featured two protagonists struggling with mental illness, parents constantly fighting, and a toxic romance, Yu did a good job balancing that out with some lighter parts, some tender parts, and some happy parts. There were a few characters, who did an admirable job lightening the mood, and I appreciated the balance. • Pro: When Stella described her depression, I nodded, and felt like she really understood my struggle. I am always a fan of books, which show there is no shame in seeking out help for mental health issues. • Pro: I know this makes other people nuts, but I liked the non-linear format. The pieces were set out in a way, which allowed the story of Stella and Kevin's relationship to emerge, and I am a fan of watching the full picture slowly develop. • Pro: I didn't realize how much I needed Yu to explicitly state it, but I am grateful that she included an open statement, that just because Kevin and Stella were bad together does NOT mean they were bad people. Kevin wasn't a villain. Stella wasn't bad. They just didn't work together. Overall: A toxic love story, which took me on an emotional roller coaster ride, which was funny, sad, messy, and honest.*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS
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  • Cabell Edmunds
    January 1, 1970
    I liked that this book talked about the tough subjects in teenage life right now, such as mental health, self harm, and relationships, but it was a struggle for me to get through this book. It felt very slow at times. I also didn’t like how it jumped around past, present and future. If you weren’t paying attention to the chapter titles you wouldn’t really realize it!
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  • Jada
    January 1, 1970
    *I received this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway*Imagine writing a journal, putting it away for a year, then coming back, ripping out all the pages and making a story with the painful ending as the beginning. There's something unique about the characters in this book. Well, this book is pretty unique in itself. You'd think Stella is a pretty unreliable narrator because she has depression, and while she is with regards to her own facets of life (I mean, she basically blacks out in Kevin-indu *I received this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway*Imagine writing a journal, putting it away for a year, then coming back, ripping out all the pages and making a story with the painful ending as the beginning. There's something unique about the characters in this book. Well, this book is pretty unique in itself. You'd think Stella is a pretty unreliable narrator because she has depression, and while she is with regards to her own facets of life (I mean, she basically blacks out in Kevin-induced lust for a month), the way she paints her friends is so genuine.What I like most about this book is that things crumble and crumble until they explode, but the resolution to the relationship's dissolution doesn't feel forced. I can feel Stella grow from breaking down and reforming her schema of the popular jocks and cheerleaders, her behavior towards her friends, and even her behavior with Kevin. The interlocking between in-scene Stella versus aside/narrator Stella is a tricky thing that Jennifer managed to execute really well. Mental illness is messy, and when you're in recovery it can be even messier because you're under this assumption that you got help and now you're better! But relapses happen, and especially in the teenage years, you can get caught up in a slew of strong emotions that derails your overall recovery.I'm always looking for quality mental health contemporary regardless of a romance, and I'm really really happy this book exists, even as it is a true retelling of a story someone has already mulled over in their head for a while.
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  • mahana ✧
    January 1, 1970
    ARC kindly provided by Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review. Twitter ☆ Blog
  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    Really realistic and gritty and sad and funny. Really enjoyed this book
  • Karen Reed
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. Do not read this and expect to sleep after. This book is intense. I've read many YA books dealing with mental health and this one sticks out as a harder one to read but also a really important , realistic one. Stella, the MC and narrator is in her junior year and has been dealing with depression and her parents constant fighting. She has 2 best friends and thinks that's all she needs. Until she meets Kevin. Kevin is a quiet, analytical boy, dealing with his own issues. But we are warned fro Wow. Do not read this and expect to sleep after. This book is intense. I've read many YA books dealing with mental health and this one sticks out as a harder one to read but also a really important , realistic one. Stella, the MC and narrator is in her junior year and has been dealing with depression and her parents constant fighting. She has 2 best friends and thinks that's all she needs. Until she meets Kevin. Kevin is a quiet, analytical boy, dealing with his own issues. But we are warned from the beginning that this love doesn't last. Now, I've recently read another book that starts with the same idea, the break-up ,so at first I thought oh no , another one. However, this ends up being completely different . (And I will recommend both , The 7 Torments of Any and Craig, and this one!)Both Stella and Kevin are dealing with major mental health issues. Both are in recovery. Both think each other is the answer . The relationship becomes all encompassing. Therapy sessions are skipped, grades slip, friends get forgotten. It's all Stella and Kevin . They start to fight, major symptoms reappear. Man, my heart broke for both of them. The author does an incredible job with the pacing of the book, alternating between the beginning of falling in love and the building fights. This style lends to the intense feelings I had while reading. She pushes and pulls you through so many ups and downs along with the characters. This is such an important book in YA mental health that shows the reality of a relationship NOT saving but hurting them. Super intense,trigger warnings, but real and honest and important message.
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  • Susie
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the most intense reads I have had in quite some time. One of the lead characters is super intense on his own, but the whole experience of this title was just edgy and intense from moment one! I really enjoyed the experience of the protagonist...who is NOT strong or particularly resilient to begin with but finds a way to be just that as time goes on. It's heartbreaking but very real and I think my students will devour it! ☺
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  • Kimberly (kimberly_reads)
    January 1, 1970
    I received an arc for Imagine Us Happy from NetGalley and Harlequin TEEN in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!I have a full review you can read on my blog here: https://kimberlyreads97.wordpress.com...Here are my initial thoughts after I finished reading this book:I really enjoyed seeing Stella’s growth as a character and found the format in which her story was told very interesting. All of the characters were very well written and I look forward to reading more by Jennifer Yu in t I received an arc for Imagine Us Happy from NetGalley and Harlequin TEEN in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!I have a full review you can read on my blog here: https://kimberlyreads97.wordpress.com...Here are my initial thoughts after I finished reading this book:I really enjoyed seeing Stella’s growth as a character and found the format in which her story was told very interesting. All of the characters were very well written and I look forward to reading more by Jennifer Yu in the future!
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  • Sophia Alexis Books
    January 1, 1970
    4 Stars, RTC 6/3/18
  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    My full review can be found on the Epilie Aspie Chick blog! Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.Stella is a girl in a tough situation between her parents and her depression. Although the author doesn't talk about her feelings on her condition as often as I hoped, it's clear she doesn't have the proper coping mechanisms to deal with what's happening in her head. She hasn't taken the wheel and learned to face it head on, which is hard. It's interestin My full review can be found on the Epilie Aspie Chick blog! Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.Stella is a girl in a tough situation between her parents and her depression. Although the author doesn't talk about her feelings on her condition as often as I hoped, it's clear she doesn't have the proper coping mechanisms to deal with what's happening in her head. She hasn't taken the wheel and learned to face it head on, which is hard. It's interesting to see how her therapist approaches their ebb and flowing relationship though. Kevin is a clearly unstable guy who hasn't learned how to appropriately channel his feelings. When he loves someone, he gets clingy to the point of possessive. When he gets angry, he not only shouts but destroys everything around him (including physically). It seems really clear that Stella started up with Kevin because she wanted a source of hope, but when you look outside yourself to somebody else for that- it's never going to be quite real. Although the story is good and the premise an interesting one, the rating on this book took a big hit for one reason: it's timing mechanism makes it very difficult to understand what is going on. The chapters skip back and forth, so the later chapters are interspersed throughout the book to show you the end of the relationship while it all plays out. In theory, it's a cool concept. However - the execution style here was too simplistic and truthfully? I don't think doing this added any additional nuance to the story. I would've liked this one much more if they would have left the chapters in order.
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  • Joanna Zbozień
    January 1, 1970
    I don't know how I feel about this book.On one hand I liked that it had mental health representation and how difficult it is to handle, especially when you think you're ok again. I also liked how real the abusive relationship was BUT I also hated the relationship and the characters.I know that people like this exist and these things actually happen but god did I hate Stella and Kevin. Stella abandoned her friends for a guy she knew for a few months and then Kevin was so philosophical (it got sup I don't know how I feel about this book.On one hand I liked that it had mental health representation and how difficult it is to handle, especially when you think you're ok again. I also liked how real the abusive relationship was BUT I also hated the relationship and the characters.I know that people like this exist and these things actually happen but god did I hate Stella and Kevin. Stella abandoned her friends for a guy she knew for a few months and then Kevin was so philosophical (it got super old super fast) and blamed everything on everyone else. There's always a discussion about the question of do unlikable characters make the book bad and in this case they made me want this book to end. Sometimes you can connect with a character who isn't perfect or who has so many flaws, that's all you can see. But this time it was a bit ridiculous.I also did not like the fact that this skipped around so much. It got confusing and I felt like it was unnecessary.
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  • Laura ( Latteandbooks )
    January 1, 1970
    Before I get into my review this book has some trigger warnings, there’s talk about toxic relationships, mental health. If you are triggered by any of that then do not read forward.Stella has depression and to see her POV in the story was defiantly unique. Stella is relatable. I think a lot of teens will connect to her story.This book does tackle some serious issues that a lot of teens are experiencing now its relevant and up to date and I think it did a good job executing the story. I did have Before I get into my review this book has some trigger warnings, there’s talk about toxic relationships, mental health. If you are triggered by any of that then do not read forward.Stella has depression and to see her POV in the story was defiantly unique. Stella is relatable. I think a lot of teens will connect to her story.This book does tackle some serious issues that a lot of teens are experiencing now its relevant and up to date and I think it did a good job executing the story. I did have an issue with how the book was jumping from past, present and future. That took me a little while to get used to. Once I did I really got into the book.
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  • Bookworm LLC
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to give this book 4**** but just felt there was too much jumping around from past to present.Ms. Yu did a good job capturing what kids and even adults go through with depression and cutting. This is a big deal with our teen population and it needs to be written about and explained to our young people that this "stigma" is not something to take your life over, that there is help out there. Parents especially need to pay closer attention to what their kids are doing and how they are actin I wanted to give this book 4**** but just felt there was too much jumping around from past to present.Ms. Yu did a good job capturing what kids and even adults go through with depression and cutting. This is a big deal with our teen population and it needs to be written about and explained to our young people that this "stigma" is not something to take your life over, that there is help out there. Parents especially need to pay closer attention to what their kids are doing and how they are acting.
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  • Kookie9200
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher for allowing me to review this book. I loved it. I found Stella to be a very relatable character. Her narrative resonates not just with teens and young adults, but adults as well. As someone that was in a very volatile relationship, I really connected with Stella. I loved the interesting jump between chapters, and I had never seen that done before. Not only was it super creative, it worked incredibly well with the narrative.
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  • Jenn
    January 1, 1970
    Read via a NetGalley ARCI liked how this handled some sensitive topics, including mental health, but wasn't entirely _about_ those.The jumping around between past/present was a little confusing as there were no indicators at the start of each chapter. I mean, you could figure it out, but something would have been useful!Anyway, this was delightful!
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  • Lydia
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book. Most all of the characters are going through something, and I love how the author gives them such accurate voices.
  • Heatherly Hardin
    January 1, 1970
    This well-written and timely novel will resonate with teens. Yu effectively captures the nuances of teenage personalities and relationships in an authentic and meaningful way.
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