H is for Happiness

2020 - Shortlisted

Shortlisted

Judges' comments

Candice Phee’s sister died when Candice was nine. Now she’s 12 and determined to fix her broken family. But Candice’s Dad is at war with Rich Uncle Brian (RUB), and Candice’s Mum is lost to grief. Over a single year, Candice tries to take her parents to Nashville; fails to be removed to state care; stages a drowning in the hope RUB and Dad will unite to save her; and confides in Douglas-Benson-from-another-dimension, who wants to escape his own family by jumping out of trees.

Based on Barry Jonsberg’s book, My Life as an Alphabet, H is for Happiness is a gently absurdist coming-of-age dramedy that delicately treads the line between humour and pathos. Hoppe frames the darknesses of adult lives through Candice’s quixotic yet innocent gaze, creating an enchanting and satisfying tale. These are heavy themes explored with a lightness of touch, achieving a surprising emotional resonance.