Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review: Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham

Title: Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
Author: Heather Harpham
Published: August 2017, Henry Holt & Company
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

A shirt-grabbing, page-turning love story that follows a one-of-a-kind family through twists of fate that require nearly unimaginable choices.

Happiness begins with a charming courtship between hopelessly attracted opposites: Heather, a world-roaming California girl, and Brian, an intellectual, homebody writer, kind and slyly funny, but loath to leave his Upper West Side studio. Their magical interlude ends, full stop, when Heather becomes pregnant - Brian is sure he loves her, only he doesn't want kids. Heather returns to California to deliver their daughter alone, buoyed by family and friends. Mere hours after Gracie's arrival, Heather's bliss is interrupted when a nurse wakes her, "Get dressed, your baby is in trouble."

This is not how Heather had imagined new motherhood – alone, heartsick, an unexpectedly solo caretaker of a baby who smelled "like sliced apples and salted pretzels" but might be perilously ill. Brian reappears as Gracie's condition grows dire; together Heather and Brian have to decide what they are willing to risk to ensure their girl sees adulthood.

The grace and humor that ripple through Harpham's writing transform the dross of heartbreak and parental fears into a clear-eyed, warm-hearted view of the world. Profoundly moving and subtly written, Happiness radiates in many directions - new, romantic love; gratitude for a beautiful, inscrutable world; deep, abiding friendship; the passion a parent has for a child; and the many unlikely ways to build a family. Ultimately it's a story about love and happiness, in their many crooked configurations.

My thoughts: I don't tend to read a ton of memoirs...but every once in a while, I pick one up because the topic speaks to me in some way. This one was Reece Witherspoon's Book Club selection for April and so I was seeing a lot of it around social media and decided to give it a go...and am so glad I did!

If you know anything about me, it may surprise you that I would pick up a memoir about a woman finding herself not only pregnant, but then dealing with an infant who is sick because of all the fertility issues I went through myself and then all the miscarriages. But, having made my peace with all that, there was something that called to me about this book - and I found that while there were some parts that were a bit hard to read, I did enjoy it...I did find the happiness in this book, much like Heather herself did in the end.

Sometimes, we need to go through the trials that life throws at us just to learn to appreciate all the little things, and that is a lesson I have learned and come to value everyday. So, as I was reading this, I could definitely empathize with Heather - life isn't always a bed of roses and sometimes what we think is going to be an easy journey is anything but, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth it. 

This book is written from the's honest, it's raw, it's emotional. And yet it's also got a touch of humor thrown in at times. I cried, I laughed, I got angry - I went through a roller-coaster of emotions right along with Heather as I was reading this book - the emotions this book evokes are that palpable.

I found myself completely wrapped up in this memoir. Once I started reading, I just couldn't put it's that absorbing. The writing is genuine and engaging and you just can't help but want the best not only for Heather, but also for little Gracie. This is one memoir that I won't be forgetting about anytime soon.


1 comment

  1. This sounds like an absorbing memoir. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's so important to appreciate the little things. Lovely review, Kristin!


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