As Happy as Here

Jane Godwin

As Happy as Here
Hachette Australia
23 July 2019

As Happy as Here

Jane Godwin

Three teenage girls from very different backgrounds find themselves sharing a hospital ward. When they witness a crime in the park below their window, they bond over trying to solve the crime and each one undergoes a profound change.

A beautiful coming-of-age story about identity, expectation, class, justice, society, fairness, and, above all, kindness.


Jane Godwin has been busy with wonderful picture books the last few years, so it is a treat to have her back writing fiction. Three early teens with different situations, temperaments and family backgrounds are sharing a hospital ward. Evie is a promising athlete who has had a ghastly accident that could see her sporting prowess severely hampered, and she is also burdened byparental expectation. Lucy is a talented musician who has a potentially life-threatening illness and a pessimistic view of things. Finally, the newest addition to the ward is the unreliable, cranky and neglected Jemma.

While the sensitive and compassionate Evie tries to bond with Jemma, they witness from their hospital window some mysterious behaviour that ultimately, they believe, is related to a series of crimes in the area. When they become implicated in the mystery, Jemma’s behaviour takes on an untrustworthy edge and the girls all have to work hard to have faith in one another. As the drama plays out, their choices take on a worrying naivety that ultimately leads to a chilling climax.

As Happy as Here is an empathetic exploration of family, friendship and how all our actions have consequences. Beautifully written and with real insight into the nature of young people, this is suitable for ages 11+.

Alexa Dretzke is the assistant manager and children’s book buyer at Readings Hawthorn.

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