“Intriguing every step of the way”

This book review of We Are All So Good at Smiling by Amber McBride is brought to you by Sanjida Saba, a member of the Youth Health Action Team.


This magical story walks in Whimsy’s shoes as she suffers from clinical depression. Whimsy is an 18-year-old Black girl who remembers the pain of the past and the feeling of losing loved ones. The novel explores her complex emotions when she embarks on a journey with Faerry to conquer their sorrow.


The book is beautifully written with so much symbolism, imagery, and hidden meanings. I was pulled into the fantasy world of Whimsy’s mind and I clearly felt the emotional struggles that were implied with each antagonist that tried preventing Whimsy and Faerry from moving on. I also loved how the book incorporated African folklore and legends with the more popular princess fairy tales that the audience is familiar with. Also, the use of short sentences in a poetry structure was new to me, I usually read novels with paragraphs of description. This triggered emphasis in a unique way and displayed the thoughts of our protagonist well. The words only fill ⅓ of each page so the story was a quick read and intriguing every step of the way.

Though the book dived deep into Whimsy’s feelings, it didn’t display Whimsy as a whole. I don’t really know much about her outside of her period of depression, and can’t really tell what type of personality she has. Faerry was described to be handsome and maybe he has a flirty personality, but it wasn’t that developed. I think extending the story after the pair breaks free of the forest would help with the realistic connections to their character. I enjoyed learning about their adventure through their memories but I would’ve preferred if the book intertwined mental illness into a larger plot in the real world.

Overall, the book gets an 8/10 and I hope more YA books take inspiration from this and include mental health conflicts in addition to the main genre to make their characters whole.


This amazing story made me reflect on my own feelings of guilt and sadness. It is an important reminder that depression is no one’s fault. During this period, many people really need support from their loved ones. Whimsy’s journey emphasizes that you can’t just magic away the pain, but instead, the only way out is through the hurtful memories.

About the Youth Health Action Team
  • What it is:  A youth-led volunteer team for people 14 to 24, with as diverse a community represented as possible, focused on mental and behavioral health for themselves and their peers in Pima County.
  • Who supports it:  The YHAT is supported and hosted by the Pima County Public Library (PCPL) and the Pima Behavioral Health Coalition (PBHC).
  • What is the goal:  The YHAT will spread awareness of the importance of youth health and of the ongoing crisis in youth mental health.
  • What does it do:  The 2024 YHAT has focused on addressing teen suicide and has developed various petitions, tool kits, and media specifically targeting schools.

About Sanjida Saba
  • Current Grade (23-24): 11th 
  • School: University High School
  • Why did you join YHAT?: I joined YHAT to understand how to deal with my own mental health and how to help others. I learned about many resources that could help me and my peers deal with stress and other emotional issues and I got a broader perspective on these problems. I also got to contribute my perspective and ideas for improvement for providing mental health support that made me think deeply about important issues in our society.
  • What else would you like us to know?: I do competitive math club and robotics club at my school to learn more about STEM applications. Outside of school, I also participate in coding competitions to gain experience about my future career and do virtual volunteering for the Pima County Library.