Small joys : a novel

by Mensah, Elvin James,

Format: Print Book 2023
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An unexpected friendship saves a young man's life in this moving, utterly charming debut about chosen family, the winding road to happiness, and the grace of second chances.

Could I one day inspire happiness in others, the same way he seemed to do in me?

It's 2005 and Harley has dropped out of college to move home, back to rural England, where he works a dead-end job at a movie theater. Estranged from his father and finding every attempt at happiness futile, Harley is on the verge of making a devastating final decision. Fortunately for him, things don't go according to plan, and his attempt on his own life is interrupted by his new roommate, Muddy.

Muddy is everything Harley is not: ostensibly heterosexual, freewheeling, confident in his masculinity. Despite their differences, a deep friendship blossoms between them when Muddy takes Harley under his wing and shows him everything that, in his eyes, makes life worth living: bird-watching, karaoke, rugby, and the band Oasis.

But this newfound friendship is complicated. It has enormous repercussions for the pair's romantically entangled friend group--for Chelsea, an overbearing striver whose generosity they begrudgingly rely on; for Finlay, her raffish and uncouth boyfriend; and for Noria, who despite her simmering confidence is smarting from a series of unreturned affections. And then there's the violent affair with an older man that Harley finds himself slipping back into . . .

As secrets and jealousies endanger all that Harley has come to depend on, he finds himself faltering once again, even though he finally has something--and someone--to live for. Soul-stirring and witty, full of hope and peopled with characters who feel like close friends, Small Joys explores a young man's turbulent journey toward happiness and announces the arrival of an exciting voice in fiction.
Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Mensah debuts with a poignant chronicle of the intense friendship between two men in Kent, England. Harley, a gay Ghanaian man who struggles with anxiety and depression, finds relief in his flatmate Muddy's "enthusiasm for life." The men met after Muddy saved Harley from a suicide attempt. Following through on a promise to take care of Harley, Muddy supports Harley during Harley's visit with his homophobic father and gives Harley a shoulder to cry on after he submits to an exploitative relationship with a racist man. After Harley attempts suicide a second time, Muddy calls in reinforcements from their friends to help care for him. The friendship is empowering for Harley, but there's also some sexual tension: Harley fancies Muddy, and Muddy's gender play--he paints his nails--prompts friends and family members to question if he is gay. Mensah's characters are engaging, and he articulates Harley's conflicted emotions well, especially when he sees a counselor for his mental health issues. The more readers see Harley go through, the more affecting Mensah makes his self-acceptance--especially after he tells his father about the friends "who loved me for who I was." This author is off to an auspicious start. Agent: Jenny Bent, Bent Agency. (Apr.)"
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Additional Information
Subjects Novels.
Publisher New York :Ballantine Books,2023
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description pages cm
ISBN 9780593499962
Other Classic View