Review: If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann

After Let’s Talk About Love, I knew I wanted to read Claire Kann’s sophomore novel. I regret absolutely nothing about reading If It Makes You Happy.

If it Makes You Happy CoverHigh school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”

Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top? (Goodreads) Goodreads

I received an eARC of If It Makes You Happy from Xpresso Tours in exchange for an honest review.

If It Makes You Happy needs trigger warnings for institutionalized fatphobia, casual fatphobia, discussions of fatphobia, casual aromantic-antagonistic comments, discussions of homophobia, gaslighting, character being kicked out of the home repeatedly.

There is a lot to love about If It Makes You Happy. Winnie, the protagonist, has such a distinct voice and viewpoint that I don’t think this story would have worked if Kann had told it any other way than in first person.

My heart soared and broke with Winnie throughout this book’s ups and downs. Her relationships with her family were amazing, particularly the very real relationship with her younger brother. I loved the way that Winnie insisted on healthy communication in all of her relationships with her peers, whether they’re family, friends or a partner.

When it comes to sexuality, Winnie has a queerplatonic partner and an open relationship. She uses the term “ungirlfriend” with her aromantic partner Kara, who has to deal with her own issues of jealousy and the reality of many people’s arophobia. It was refreshing to see those issues treated as valid ones even when they manifested themselves in unacceptable ways. I enjoyed Dallas’ entire character and how he treated Winnie.

I also loved how complicated her relationship with her grandmother was. I loved how hard it was for her to stand her ground with Granny, because that is the reality of a lot of people’s experiences. Especially when it comes to weight and sexuality.

The fat representation and discussions in this were painful but amazing. Comments about weight and how it impacts your life are literally everywhere. People try to put you on diets without your consent, people treat you like you are lesser than, and when you speak out against it you’re treated as if you’re public enemy number one. It’s only amplified when you are marginalized in another way, like Winnie is by being black and queer. Kann did a beautiful job of handling it, which makes sense because it’s based on her own experiences.

Overall, I highly recommend this book with a nod to the trigger warnings. You can pick up a copy on Amazon, Indiebound and The Book Depository.


Title: If It Makes You Happy

Author: Claire Kann

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Length: 288 Pages

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Rating: Highly Recommended

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction

Representation: Fat Black queer woman main character, Asthmatic Black side character, Latinx aromantic side character, diverse cast.


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One Reply to “Review: If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann”

  1. Great review, Ceillie! This sounds like a really well written, important read full of substance and though provoking as well. Glad you liked it!

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