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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Erin - Audible on 08-09-17
Like Being At A Riveting One-Woman Show
As a motherless non-mother, I didn’t expect to identify this much with a memoir about raising a sick child, about the impossible choices parenting requires, about having to hold fear and hope in the same hand. But the writing is so blazingly good, true, and precise, that sentence after sentence had me nodding with recognition: Yes, I know this exactly. Heather Harpham is a writer of such ability and intelligence that her struggle becomes your struggle; her revelation about the true state of happiness becomes your revelation. Hearing it in her own voice only makes that connection more personal.
28 of 29 people found this review helpful
By Leah on 08-12-17
Loved and hated that the story ended...
This author, in my book, (no pun intended) has one of the most forgiving hearts. I admire that immensely! That she totally owns her shortcomings in every facet of her life is something most of us never even think of. Not without years of therapy anyway.
The delivery in words and tone made this journey very easy to hear, as painful as it was. I found myself avoiding germs and then catching myself. My heart felt like boiled mash at times. I celebrated out loud during the joyful parts. I cried silent, ugly tears over losses.
This book is for anyone, especially parents or loved ones, experiencing a long battle with severely ill children. Or for anyone like me-who loves a story told by a narrator who can deliver such a moving story in a gentle, but matter-of-fact manner.
I loved the story so much that I hated for it to end. I'm hoping there will be a sequel of everyday experiences about this family.
14 of 16 people found this review helpful