Burton, David. “How to Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Sex and Teenage Confusion”, Text Publishing, 2017.
“How to Be Happy” is David Burton’s memoir of his life at high school and beyond. As a youngster, he felt out of place and convinced and that he was not normal. He wanted a girlfriend, but his first date was a disaster. He did not like sports and was unlucky with friendships. He only found solace in drama classes with the creation of ‘Crazy Dave’, and he built a life where everything was fine. However, everything was not fine.
In reading about the real David, we also read about depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, academic pressure, love and adolescent confusion.
Most of us would think that a book like this might be a heavy read but it is just the opposite. It is filled with humor and is for anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t fit in.
Burton gives us wonderful descriptions of his anxiety and depression and is able to take us from humor to devastation in the same paragraph. As he does he attempts to break down the stigmas that surround mental illness. This is a short and intense look at depression, family issues and sexuality. We see that not everything is in our own control and that things can change quickly. Growing up, Burton has to deal with two brothers with Aspersers, being bullied at school, worrying about a self-harming friend and his own spirals into depression and anxiety. He explored
his problems in such a self-deprecating way at a time when they were not openly discussed by society. This is also a celebration of the friendships he formed and the trials he overcame