If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann
High 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?
I think the synopsis does a pretty good job explaining what the book is about, so I want to talk more about the characters.
First is Winnie. She is 18 and working at her granny’s diner the way she does every summer. She loves working there. Her brother Winston, and cousin, Sam stay there with her. Winnie is black and fat (not said in a bad way). She is happy with how she is. She’s pretty confident except when it comes to public speaking. She didn’t sign up, but someone put her name in for “queen” for the summer. And her name was picked. Her ungirlfriend, Kara (more about her later), volunteered for be her queen. But a boy, Dallas, also volunteered as king. The two had to compete to spend the summer by Winnie’s side.
Kara is Winnie’s ungirlfriend. Kara loves Winnie and doesn’t want to be with anyone else. But Winnie doesn’t want to be exclusive, while wanting Kara in her life forever. They have a great friendship and things work well because they are always honest with each other. But Kara kept something about Dallas from Winnie and it causes some major issues with them.
Dallas is someone that I really grew to love through the book. It took him awhile to open up to Winnie, but he finally did. He likes her, but he isn’t a fan of Kara. Winnie explains that he doesn’t have to be with Kara to be with her, but they have to get along. Dallas is willing to try and I loved how sweet he was with Winnie. He was honest and really listened.
Sam is Winnie’s 16 year old cousin. Sam and her dad have lived with Winnie’s family, so Sam is more like a sister. She is a bit hyper and too perfect with things. She definitely likes things to go her way, but she’s also very sensitive and fears that everyone hates her. Some of the things she says to Winnie can be insensitive, but she tries.
Winston is Winnie’s 14 year old brother. This relationship was my favorite in the book. Winnie had a great relationship with her parents, too, but the sibling relationship was everything. Winston has been working along side the diner’s cook. And he’s gotten good. Really good. It’s something that he really wants to do and once he tells Winnie, she wants him to join a competition. But her granny said no.
Granny. I had a tough time with this relationship. Winnie is the oldest grandchild and was special to her granny. But it also opened her up to the most criticism. Things start to go bad when Winnie refuses to let the doctor weigh her. The doctor starts lecturing her on health issues without ever seeing her chart. Winnie is active, just bigger. And she’s fine with it. But it quickly becomes obvious that her granny isn’t. Winnie tries to explain her feelings, but her granny doesn’t get it. This is just the start of their fighting. I really wanted her granny to try to understand things from Winnie’s point of view. They were both similar though. Quick to temper and stubborn.
There is definitely romance in the book, but most of it felt like friendship and getting to know someone. Kara has a lot of jealousy of Dallas. She’s afraid of losing Winnie because it’s obvious that she likes Dallas a lot. I really liked that even though they weren’t friends, they were both willing to try for Winnie’s sake.
I thought it was great that Winnie wasn’t afraid of being who she was. No real labels. Just living life to be happy, but still focused on making others happy. I would have given this a higher rating, but I was kind of bummed by the ending. But overall, I loved all the fat positive things and the relationships in the book.
I gave this 4 stars. Thank you to the publisher, Swoon Reads/Macmillan, for sending me a copy for review.
Is this book on your TBR? Have you read Claire’s other book, Let’s Talk About Love?