How to Be Happy is a memoir written by first time author David Burton. It broke ground last year by being the first non-fiction manuscript to win the Text Prize for children and young adults. David is now in his late 20’s but the memoir focuses on his school and university years, and the few years following that. To say he was an angsty teen would be understating the case. He struggled with his identity, and trying to figure out whether he was gay or not was a major preoccupation during that time. He had girlfriends, but could never really commit to them, withdrawing from the relationships and causing heartache for the girls more than once. Of course, that added to his burden of guilt and worry. His parents, ever supportive, continually offered their own help, and provided professional help which he sometimes accepted. His parents were quite heroic really, as they struggled with their own depressions and two younger sons both of whom were diagnoses with Aspergers when quite young. So their plate was very full, but they never gave up on him.
All of the above might sound a bit grim, but the book is really well written, and as he goes through his different phases of ‘Crazy Drama Dave’ then ‘Gay Dave’, their is s lot of humour as well as the sadness and confusion. He doesn’t shy away from his struggles, but he got through them, and is now a happy and well functioning adult. No doubt, he still has his off days, but the story is an uplifting one of hope and encouragement.