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The Underside of Joy Hardcover – January 12, 2012
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"The Underside of Joy" covers the transforming experiences of most of our lives -- marriage, parenthood and death -- with maturity, understanding and grace.... the book offers a lot to think about. I suspect it will be a book club favorite."--M.L. Johnson, Associated Press
"[An] exquisite debut... moving and hopeful"--People Style Watch
"Seré Prince Halverson's debut novel is a faultless exploration of sadness and shame, anger and forgiveness; a story well told about people we would like to know."--Shelf Awareness
"Halverson's gloriously down-to-earth novel is so pitch perfect that as readers reluctantly reach the last page, wanting more, they will have to take it on faith that this really is her first fiction."--Library Journal, Starred Review
"...As she mines the family secrets her characters hold close and how those affect their relationships with one another, Halverson proves she's a wordsmith and a storyteller to keep an eye on."--Bookpage, Fiction Top Pick
"A poignant debut about mothers, secrets and sacrifices...Halverson avoids sentimentality, aiming for higher ground in this lucid and graceful examination of the dangers and blessings of familial bonds."--Kirkus Reviews
"Halverson paints a lovely picture of small-town life and intimate family drama…Nuanced characters and lack of cliché make for a winning debut."--Publishers Weekly
"Halverson’s debut novel marks her as a strong new voice in women’s fiction…this would make an excellent book-club choice."--Booklist
From the Back Cover
"The writing in The Underside of Joy is as purely beautiful as the story is emotionally complex. When Ella Beene is wrenched from a state of unexamined happiness into confusion and grief, she finds that her only hope of emerging whole is to face searing and long-buried truths. Ella embarks on a difficult journey, both morally and materially, one that requires her to risk losing everything she most loves. I cheered (sometimes through tears) her every step."
-- New York Times bestselling author of Falling Together and Love Walked In Marisa de los Santos
Top customer reviews
Ella tries her best to do what is right for the kids, her in-laws, her friends and lastly herself. She has great ideas and implements them in order to save the market. But, each success is bitter sweet because she is grieving for her husband, worrying about the kids, and uncovering more and more secrets.
The novel was well-written and engaging. I was glad that finally a stepmother was portrayed as kind and loving. I enjoyed Ella's relationships with her brother-in-law, David, her friend, Lucy, her in-laws, and her mother. I would have liked to have known even more about their stories.
I also wish that there was some real expression of anger by Ella at some point in the book. She was going through a stepmother's worst nightmare, and yet she remained so rational, so composed. Also, the oldest child, Annie, was a little too mature for a 9 year old. Additionally, she seemed to have no reservations about going off with her mother whom she hasn't seen for 3 years. It would have been more believable to me if Annie was conflicted about it.
It's definitely a book worth reading. It's a story that will stay with you.
I highly recommend The Underside of Joy. It is a wonderful story about finding hope when the unthinkable happens. The novel tells the story of Ella Beane, whose world is ripped apart when the love of her life, her husband Joe, dies, and the birth mother of her two children, Paige, returns to claim them. Ella is a very likeable character, strong and vulnerable at the same time. I was swept up in her story from the very first page.
In this beautifully woven novel, Ella must uncover the truth, as horrific and heartbreaking as it is at times, and chose between what she believes is best not only for her and her beloved step-children, but what is right. Through her skillfully crafted prose and compelling cast of characters, author Seré Prince Halverson's examines how family deals with tragedy and loss, hurt and betrayal, secrets and lies.