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Review: Hector and the Search for Happiness, Francois Lelord

Hector is a young psychiatrist, and a very good one.  He often knows how to help his patients, but he struggles with those who don’t really have an identifiable illness; they’re just unhappy.  Even when they are rich, in successful marriages, with smart children, these people aren’t happy.  And sometimes Hector finds that he is also unhappy, which he doesn’t understand.  So he sets off on a worldwide tour in an effort to find the secret of happiness, if there even is one.

This was a cute “modern fable”, as it’s titled on the back.  The writing style is very simple, almost juvenile in tone, but it suits the book somehow as Hector goes around writing down his list of what happiness is.  And the list was relevant, as he pointed out many things I agree with, some of which were obvious and some not as much.  Hector finds what makes him happy in the end, with a few missteps along the way.

I think it was the missteps which were really the only thing I didn’t like about the book.  Hector cheats on his girlfriend twice over the course of the book, and while both incidents make him learn something about himself, it did turn me off him somewhat.  He didn’t even seem particularly guilty about his indiscretions, so it made me unsure if he really deserved his happy ending.

I did like how the countries weren’t really named, even though we could figure out which ones they were; it leant a timelessness to the book it wouldn’t have gained otherwise.  It was interesting how violence was portrayed in this simple tone as well.  At times I knew Hector was in danger but it was never too scary and to be honest I never really worried that much about him.  I haven’t decided if this was a good or a bad thing, but it made his discoveries about happiness a little more relevant to the harsher places in the world.

Overall, I did enjoy my time with Hector & the Search for Happiness.  It was very sweet and I think it had a number of good lessons in it, as a fable should, but I never felt talked down to despite the simple narration.  I would recommend it.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for review from the publisher.

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