The Ha-Ha by Dave King
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Challenge: A-Z (author)
Review: Although the title might lead one to think that it's funny, this book was described to me as "depressing." In fact, the title refers to a type of hidden retaining wall, rather than laughter. Either way, though, I wouldn't describe the book depressing myself, aside from the steep slide downward toward the end.
Rather, I'd say this book is astonishingly hopeful. Our main character has overcome a great deal of adversity, and managed to make a life for himself despite an injury that has left him unable to speak or to read easily. He has overcome addiction and the death of parents. He has made a life for himself, and achieved an equilibrium largely characterized by his detachment from the people around him.
But when his high school sweetheart asks him to take in her 9-year-old son, Ryan, while she goes to rehab, he finds that they are able to form a bond. But perhaps this emotional reawakening is not all that Howard thinks it will be. Inevitably, though, Ryan must return to his mother, and Howard finds his newly constructed world unraveling.
This is the depressing part of the book, which perhaps is more drawn out than it needed to be. Again, Howard must struggle, but this time, instead of finding solace in solitude, Howard is able to turn to the relationships he formed through Ryan and find comfort in companionship.