Hurt Go Happy Book Poster Image

Hurt Go Happy

(i)

 

Award-winner faces tough topic of animal testing.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Joey's mother consistently and determinedly makes bad and wrong-headed decisions which lead to harm for herself, her children, and others. Joey courageously fights for what she believes.

Violence

Spousal and child abuse, the latter leading to permanent disability, referred to and briefly described. A facility where scientists perform experiments on chimpanzees is described, the experiments themselves are only referred to.

Sex

Joey's mom wonders if an old man is a "pervert." He isn't.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Many brands mentioned, including supermarket, sneaker, soft-drink, sauce, pizza, toothpaste, fast food, and hotel.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults drink beer and smoke cigarettes and cigars.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that one of the major themes is animal testing and experimentation. Though not graphic, this may be disturbing to some kids. Also, a major character was abused as a young child, leading to deafness.

What's the story?

Joey has been mostly deaf since early childhood, but her mother has refused to let her learn sign language. But in her teens, Joey meets a neighbor, Dr. Mansell, who has a chimpanzee, Sukari, who can communicate in sign language. Trying to keep it secret from her mother, Joey begins to learn to sign. But when her mother finds out, and then Dr. Mansell dies, Sukari's future is in doubt. Includes sign-language alphabet, author's Afterword, and a Reader's Guide in the paperback edition.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

While the story never comes across as didactic, no one will miss the piercing critique of animal testing, and it's a theme that will resonate strongly with young readers. Equally powerful, though, is the web of issues relating to deaf children and their families, and in Joey young readers will encounter a strongly sympathetic, and courageous heroine. Like many in the deaf community, she recognizes the positive aspects of her situation, and though she is often frustrated and lonely, she is also at times grateful and relieved to embrace her deafness.

There are a lot of important themes here -- deafness, communication, animal rights, parental fallibility, abuse -- and sophomore author Ginny Rorby swirls them together into a powerfully potent brew in which each ingredient enhances the others. Without ever getting graphic or inappropriate, the emotional and at times disturbing result may be too much for more sensitive readers. The rest will find it hard to put down while reading, and harder still to forget afterwards. This is a book that has a lasting impact on the reader, and those in the target age group may want to go further and take action.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about animal testing and experimentation. What are the pros and cons? Which outweighs the other? What are the ethics involved? Is it OK if it saves many lives? Is it OK with some animals but not with others? Readers who wish to know more can start with the Web sites listed below, as well as the organizations listed in the back of the book.

Book details

Author:Ginny Rorby
Genre:Family Life
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Tor Books
Publication date:August 1, 2006
Number of pages:267

This review of Hurt Go Happy was written by

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Kid, 9 years old April 9, 2008

I nearly cried

It was one of the most touching books I have ever read.Just the story make you think more about life. 1# ON MY LIST of best books!
Kid, 11 years old December 5, 2012

Not too bad

In fourth grade, our reading group read this book. It's amazing and moving, but I thought it was disturbing because I had never really been exposed to anything like it. But if our elementary school thinks it is acceptable, I don't think it's too bad.
Teen, 13 years old Written by666wolfgirl September 25, 2009

Deeeeeep to the Heart

I think this is a very intriguing book. It really touches the soul if you bother to understand the meaning of the story. There are some parts that bored me a tad bit, but overall I adore this story; it brought me close to tears.

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