This Is Happy was promoted in Elle Canada, October 2015 on the 15 Fall Must Reads list. I must say, I would like to commend the magazine for including Canadian authors on the list. In any case, This Is Happy is a beautiful and thoughtfully written memoir about family, loss, and mental illness. Camila navigates what it is like to be a married to a woman, become divorced and to have a family that is different and loving and amazing in it’s own uniqueness.
This Is Happy begins with Camilla’s tumultous childhood; the child of British parents who immigrated with their children to Canada when Camilla was quite young. Her father, being very mentally ill/unstable, was unable to work after a while, and his problems eroded his relationships with his wife, leading to divorce, and his children, who eventually stopped speaking to him. Later on, Camilla pursued a masters degree and PhD, which allowed her to conduct fieldwork in Ethiopia, where she had an affair with a local doctor. Challenged by her own mental illnesses, it broke my heart to read about Camilla’s desire to end her life and how hard she had to struggle to overcome that.
Camilla got married and decided to have a child. At the ending of that marriage, Camilla eventually found her way to happiness with the discovery of her own unique family.
I loved This Is Happy for Camilla’s thoughtful honesty throughout the book. I thought I would tire of the endless stream of memoirs, but I really don’t. I love reading about the stories and experiences of peoples lives. I love that one of those people is finally a Canadian, and is someone who is a woman who married another woman, and is someone who has to combat mental illness. These experiences let others know that it is ok to have those experiences, that they’re not alone, and that is a really positive message for a lot of people.
All in all, This Is Happy is a wonderful story about finding happiness and family. I absolutely loved it and thought it was so moving. It is a book well worth reading.