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Happiness Sold Separately    by Libby Street order for
Happiness Sold Separately
by Libby Street
Order:  USA  Can
Downtown Press, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Tarah Schaeffer

Life is what you make of it, and in Ryan Hadley's case, she hasn't made much. Working a dead end data entry job and living in a closet sized apartment is far from her ideal living situation. She hopes to become the ideal 'modern American female', with (among other things) a job she loves, the man of her dreams, and a luxurious living space. There are, however, many potholes on the road to the realization of Ryan's dreams, the biggest being to find a job she actually enjoys. She does look, even going as far as to use a head hunter who pumps up her resumé - a bit too much.

The main problem Ryan faces throughout the story is the closure she needs from Ex-Boyfriend Charlie. Four years before, after graduating from college, he was offered a job at a large record company. He invited Ryan to join him, but due to some issues she had at the time, she chickened out and told him to go on without her. Nerves are still raw from that abrupt ending so that when she runs into him at a gig of one of her workmates, she is rather anxious. That chance meeting turns into a common occurrence, after it is revealed why Charlie is in town - to manage the band of Ryan's officemate, Will.

So begins a downward tailspin in Ryan's life. She feels more and more disconnected from her friends. Will has his band while her best friends, Vanessa and Audrey, are busy after being promoted at work. So what's a girl to do with all her free time? Ryan creates a to-do list of all the things she's wanted, but has never had the chance, to do - like learning to ride a horse, becoming a ballerina, and kissing a movie star. On paper it seems that accomplishing these goals will be easy. But will it be?

If you're looking for a good beach I suggest you pick up Happiness Sold Separately. It is not too long, and brings up interesting questions about whether any of us is truly happy with where we are in our lives.

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