Sunday, October 11, 2015

Smiley face After Ever Happy by Anna Todd | Rating: ★★★☆☆

"No one, not even the doubting part of me, can make me feel bad for loving passionately and hoping desperately that I could have that great love that I’ve read about in novels."

The cycle is beginning to end in After Ever Happy: Anna Todd has finally brought about the improvements to characters and acknowledges quite a few things that should have been present in the After series since at least book two. During a very shaky and repetitive start to this final installment to Tessa and Hardin’s whirlwind romance, things will fall down and we can only hope, like the optimists we are, that life doesn’t destroy everything once more.

In the events of After We Fell, we’d discovered quite a few things and seen several changes of scenery. We’d also seen the light dim from Tessa’s eyes bit by bit; after fights and betrayals and other terrible occurrences. It was a bumpy ride from the start, but in our previous installment it was far more emotional and Todd’s writing surely picks up from this point on. After We Fell was my favorite up until this point but now After Ever Happy has taken at least a small bit of my heart.

Between plot developments such as Steph’s betrayal, Molly’s change of heart, Hardin’s biological father, the reappearance of Tessa’s father and more we’d been sent spinning in confusion. Will life ever be on anyone’s side? Or are we forever destined to be in the same vicious circle?


The truth is, Tessa and Hardin’s relationship is horrifying. If these two wish to work, ever, they have to spend time apart to grow and mature and figure out if they really are part of the same destiny. But with Tessa’s inability to stick to her decisions and Hardin’s taste for being a total asshole, we can’t help but wonder if these two would simply be better off apart from each other.

In After Ever Happy, we do see a little resolution and growth after another heated fight. Hardin and Tessa spend their disastrous trip to London in flames–and when Hardin pulls his shit once more, leaving Tessa to return to Washington alone, things seem to truly be at an end. And the second she gets back home and begins to adjust to life after Hardin; her luck reaches an all time low…

Plans for leaving with Landon for New York seemed so simple and pure and beautiful–who can resist a fresh start in the best city in the states, with your very best friend? Tessa knew it was a chance to take on life this way and start new. Just as she is in the process of making good changes to her life in ruins; she heads to the apartment she once shared with Hardin to grab some of her belongings and finds her father’s body after a relapse.

Life works in terrifying ways sometimes. Just as Tessa built this calm and worked so hard to start over, she gets pulled under once more by life and its horrible trickery. It’s the final straw and our survivor loses herself bit by bit, putting everyone into a panic.

Meanwhile, back in London… Hardin has fallen back into his old ways. He has convinced himself once more than he doesn’t deserve happiness and that this is who he was always meant to be. Drugs and alcohol are in a heavy abundance as he plants himself in his old friends lives; without his desire to sleep around. Hardin is, whether he wants to admit it or not, forever changed.

After hearing about the death of Tessa’s father, his fickle and selfish mind hops back into gear and heads back to the states. He knows he shouldn’t have done what he did, as usual and hopes to make it up to her one day. But first, he must help her through her period of mourning–he is surprised to find that she is withdrawn, in shock, and refuses to talk to anyone.

He is beyond himself with worry and guilt. Noah and Landon and Hardin are all concerned for Tessa, in different ways. After a breakthrough and decision making on his part, he swallows his pride and brings Zed out to help. It’s selfish and selfless all tied into one–in spite of his feelings towards Zed, he wants Tessa to have someone to lean on besides her other friends and family and thinks Zed is the right choice.

Of course, this does back fire. Zed shows a whole new side to Tessa and it sends their friendship underground. I always thought Zed was the better option compared to Hardin, although neither are good guys and neither are good for her, but after the way he acts when he should be comforting Tessa I can’t help but to want neither man to be a part of her life.

The bumpy road doesn’t end here:

As Tessa and Landon prepare their move to NYC, Tessa gets some earth shattering news from her doctor. It is likely, all too likely, that she will never have children. While she is only nineteen, it’s still heartbreaking to receive this news and it only weighs Tessa down further. Will our girl ever catch a break?

Hardin’s growing up. This much is certain. He still has flaws and horrible ideas, but he is on the path to improvement. Gone is the hard, bad boy we met in the first book and in his place is someone a bit more rational. He has a long road to go, but everyday he is getting better. It doesn’t mean he is perfect and it doesn’t mean he is right for Tessa, the breakthrough is in his growth.

Even his reaction to Tessa’s decisions and the fact that Ken and Karen are expecting a child are far better than they would have been once upon a time.

With writing as his outlet, Hardin’s life seems to be headed down the right track whereas Tessa’s seems to be on a pause. During one final breakup, the two decide it’s time to be a part for now–they need to fix themselves and grow if they ever want to truly and completely be together. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.

I liked that before moving with Landon, Tessa made the effort to get her relationship with her mom on the right track. My only complaint about how things were handled in this one was that there was absolutely no talk of what Steph and Dan did to Tessa--I mean it was mentioned in passing, sure, and moving on is key... but come on, Anna? Seriously?

The rest of the story is told in various time jumps, which I like. I liked the format this one was done in better than the previous books. While there was something undeniably juicy and fun and fast about reading the other books–which are told in real time–Anna’s writing shines in After Ever Happy due to all the changes. I can’t help but to think I would have enjoyed the series more if it hadn’t been so repetitive and spread out through time.

Something about this one just flows better. Perhaps it’s the resolution, perhaps it’s the promises. It just was funner, easier and more heartfelt to read. I liked that Hessa grew a lot and I liked that they finally put an end to their back and forth–or tried to.

By the time we see Hardin’s story, the one that he has been writing since meeting Tessa, I can’t help but to think that how Anna wrote that… that’s how the story should have been formatted to begin with. After Ever Happy, though far from perfect, is the best in its series and left me feeling not pleased but not unsettled like the rest of the books.

It’s no secret that this series isn’t a favorite of mine, but I applaud Anna Todd for providing a solid ending and hope for change.

I need only remind you to remember that this is merely fiction and you should not be searching for your own Hardin. Although the series ends on a positive note, life doesn’t always have these sorts of endings and people don’t always change.

It’s not foolish to search for a great love, but it is unhealthy to strive for this sort of relationship.

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