Book review

Happy by Keith Gray (1998)

It's the name of Will's band:

'We are Happy. And we hope you are too!'

To begin with it isn't much more than a yearning idea, and his Dad's old guitar. Will is sure he can write songs - original material - that will get his band noticed. All he has to do is get the team together.

Obviously there is his best friend Danny. Danny is lead guitar. And they find a drummer performing in the local scout hut. Actually, Gavin is the drummer for the opposition, Shoot Cliff:

I would have left then; Danny was bored, in a world of his own, and even the mad dancers down the front were losing their appeal. But when the song finished the singer wandered off to the side, grabbing a can of Coke and wiping a towel across his sweaty chest. the guitarists sat themselves down at the other side, and the stage was left free for the drummer. He was a stocky, ginger-haired kid I recognised from the comp; Gary or Gareth or something. I'd seen him around quite a bit, but had never shared any lessons with him. He was also naked from the waist up, but he was twice as broad as the singer, the skin stretched across his chest as tightly as on any of his drums. The mad dancers were all clapping and shouting, 'Come on, Gav! Ga-vin! Ga-vin!' making him grin in a shy, almost embarrassed kind of way. He counted himself in with his sticks, then proceeded to play one of the best drum solos I've ever heard.

It's OK. Will persuades Gavin to join Happy. Then all they need is a bass player. They only know one, and it's Danny's sister's boyfriend, Ian. Fortunately, Ian can play.

So that's Happy started. They meet to practise in the back room of Danny's mum's flower shop:

'I've written this tune,' I told them. 'Or the basic chorus part to it anyway. I'll play it through a couple of times, and then you three join in when you know what's happing. See if we can come up with anything interesting. Okay?'
They all looked a bit vague, but I was determined to jump in at the deep end. And far too impatient not to.

It's hard, trying to get a band up and running. It takes talent, and cash, and practice, and some organisational skills - when they finally get their first booking they are thrilled, and frightened to death. Read the book to see how they handle it!

But how do you know whether your dream is just a dream, or whether you can take it further and make it your life?:

'Hundreds of people want to be in a band. They all get guitars and they all play gigs and they all write songs, and they still never make it.'

What can I read next?

If you enjoy this book, I am sure you will enjoy Keith Gray's other book:

If you enjoy your stories firmly rooted in reality, have a look at this superb book by Philip Gross:

Or this sensitive portrayal of a boy trying to survive his step father's violence by David Klass:

Or you could have a look at this moving story of love and racial discord by Gaye Hicyilmaz:

Finally, you could look at anything by Tim Bowler:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

Happy features in these lists: