Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant


Tessa Johnson is a 16-year-old writer and lover of all things involving a happily ever after. As a hopeless romantic, she writes romance novels that only her best friend Caroline reads. Struggling with self-worth, Tessa hardly thinks her writing deserves proper recognition. Though, throughout the book, Tessa discovers her self-worth as she sets out to find her own happily ever after.


When Tessa is accepted into a prestigious arts academy for writing, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to write every day for school credit. But when her teacher announces to the class that they must each share their writing for daily workshops, Tessa becomes hesitant at the thought of other people reading her work. This hesitation turns into full-blown panic when Tessa begins to write on her first day of class, and her words are gone.


Tessa loses her inspiration to write and struggles with a long bout of writers’ block, unable to submit the weekly updates about her romance novel to her teacher. Desperate for help, Tessa confides in her best friend Caroline, who creates the Happily Ever After plan to bring Tessa’s words back. Through a love triangle, Tessa finds that sometimes happily ever afters are spent with the person you least expect--and loving yourself first is the real goal.


Elise Bryant’s Happily Ever Afters has all of the charming qualities of a teenage love story with unique characters representing all walks of life. The care and attention put into Tessa’s character development and family dynamic makes this book so much more significant than typical romance novels.


As a black girl, Tessa moves through life with a double consciousness, intensely aware of the expectations and struggles that are distinctly hers. Happily Ever Afters is nothing short of Black Girl Magic with its refreshing depiction of a black teenage girl protagonist. From Happily Ever Afters, we learn about self-worth and surrounding ourselves with people who can help celebrate us.


Themes:

Romance; teenage love story; fiction; black girl magic; finding your voice; self-improvement; self-care; journey; love story; writing; dreams; happily ever after


Memorable Quotes:


“And in the end, maybe there isn’t anything wrong with chasing after a happily ever after. As long as it’s the happily ever after that’s full and nuanced and really right for me.”


“I’m intoxicated with the magic of it all, being able to share my words with others. And I wouldn’t have been able to experience this joy, this rush, without first taking the risk of sharing myself. Without saying, Here. This is something I love, please love it too.


“But what I really needed, to find my words and voice again, was to love myself. And I do.”


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