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The Pursuit of Happiness    by Tara Alterbrando order for
Pursuit of Happiness
by Tara Alterbrando
Order:  USA  Can
MTV, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

The Pursuit of Happiness begins in mid June on the day sixteen-year-old Betsy Irving's mother dies of breast cancer. Betsy turns to her friends and boyfriend Brandon for comfort, only to find out that he has been cheating on her. Her friends' knowledge of his deception hurts Betsy as much as the breakup and leaves her without a support system when she needs one the most.

The three remaining Irvings drift through the summer missing Betsy's mother and holding their sadness inside. Betsy's summer job - as a colonial character at the Morristown Historic Village - becomes her refuge. There, she makes two new friends. Getting to know Liza Henski, a girl she always avoided at school because of her freakishness, is full of surprises - beyond Liza's tattoos and piercings. For example, Liza has cheerleading trophies all over her house, but she's never even tried out for cheerleading at the high school.

James is a lanky surfer who seems to like Betsy, but tells her he has a girl friend. He keeps showing up at beach parties, calling her, asking her to go places as a friend, and driving her home from work. It's hard to keep in mind that he belongs to someone else. 'Find something you're passionate about. The rest will follow.' The last advice her mother gives her dogs Betsy through a summer of grief. In a touching story of love and loss, Betsy learns how to keep her mother alive within herself, as she begins to share her feelings with her family and friends.

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