Paul Guest is just 12 years old when a biking accident indelibly changes his life forever. Now 27, ONE MORE THEORY ABOUT HAPPINESS is Guest’s account of the events that resulted in his broken neck and adjustment to life as a quadriplegic. In a word, this memoir is stunning. In a few more words, it’s more than I expected–even in its mere 208 pages–and one that I think everyone should read.

It’s easy to tell in the first few pages of ONE MORE THEORY ABOUT HAPPINESS that Guest is a bright, mindful and considerate person. Wrapping up his sixth grade year at a barbeque hosted by his teacher, Guest and his best friend take off on a pair of old bikes while the food is still being prepared. The bikes are dilapidated at best and leave Guest wondering if a ride is the best thing to do; but once the tires are filled with air, the two take to the hilly streets of the neighborhood. Guest couldn’t have anticipated that the bike’s brakes were out of commission, nor could he have seen the drainage ditch lying in hiding under overgrown foliage. But when his speed picked up and he hit the ditch, he “was thrown from the bike, over the handlebars, catapulted, tossed like a human dart into the earth.”

What follows, in beautiful and lyrical prose, is Guest’s journey to find himself in this new body and to connect with others in real and meaningful ways. Understandably, he struggled with the forced intimacy that must be shared with a caregiver that sees you at your most vulnerable, when in need of help with basic life skills like eating, bathing and using the bathroom. And yet, I wonder if this exposure helped him create such an intimate account of his life, one that I felt fully welcomed to enter.


Despite what may seem like a grim story, Guest’s eloquence, insightfulness and humor convey a life that is not to be pitied. In fact, I found his story to be a reminder that, while life is fragile, we are all so very capable of greatness… whatever greatness is for us. Guest most certainly could have become embittered and resigned, yet he always worked through his therapies and sought his passion and is now not only a memoirist, but an award-winnng poet. I kind of wonder if he would have become a writer were it not for his accident. We may never know.


What I do know is that he has immense gifts and significant talent. I know that the words I write here don’t do any justice to the words he placed on the page for us all to experience. I know, or was reminded, that happiness is a choice no matter what your circumstances. I also know that I wanted just a little bit more from this otherwise perfect book. He is still so young with such a promising career that is just beginning to unfold.

Rating: 4 stars
Pages: 208
Genre: Memoir