BookBrowse Reviews Happiness by Heather Harpham

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The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After

by Heather Harpham

Happiness by Heather Harpham X
Happiness by Heather Harpham
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2017, 320 pages
    Nov 2018, 320 pages

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About this Book



A compassionate, intelligent memoir of a family's attempt to parent a sick child. Highly recommended by First Impressions reviewers

Of the 53 reviews submitted for Happiness, 49 readers rated it a four- or five-star book for an average of 4.7, a score only achieved by one other non-fiction title in the 10 year history of First Impressions!

What it's about:
Heather Harpham's memoir, Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi Ever After, is a compassionate, intelligent story of a family's attempt to parent a sick child. The non-fiction account begins with a delightful courtship between the author, a worldly California girl, and Brian, an intellectual homebody writer who doesn't want to change his New York lifestyle. Their magical interlude ends when she becomes pregnant and her newly acquired lover doesn't want children, even though he says he loves her. With the help of her family and friends, she returns to California to deliver their daughter alone. Within hours of her delivery she is told her baby Grace is perilously ill. As the child's condition becomes increasingly dismal, the father reappears and together they must decide what they will risk to ensure she will reach adulthood (Carol N).

The book covers many themes:
The author allows us to see her world from many different angles, all of them very personal (Dorothy G). She explores a multitude of subjects: romance, relationships, parental passion for one's children, and abiding friendships. It is ultimately a story about her family's search for love and happiness (Carol N).

Many found the book hit home:
Be prepared to be deeply moved (Monica P). I was absorbed by this heartwarming story and finished reading it with tears running down my face (Diane H). This book was absolutely incredible. Considering my 'season' in life--early 30s and having kids--I could easily put myself right in the author's shoes. She makes you want to enjoy each and every moment with your kids (Miller W). It truly speaks to the courage and strength we often don't believe we have, and the power of a child to evoke these qualities in the parents who love and vow to protect them, whatever it takes personally. I feel honored to have read their story (Diane W).

Harpham's writing was a highlight:
Although a difficult topic, Harpham portrays her deeply personal story with charm and grace. Her voice never loses its underlying positivity even in the face of traumatic medical decisions involving her children (Melinda H). She has a talent for great prose and description that made her memoir real (Marion C). Her writing was full of pure and raw emotion which I found incredibly beautiful (Miller W). The highs and lows are presented as mini roller coasters which catapult the reader into what the family must be going through (Linda V).

First Impression reviewers also admired the author's candor:
I feel that it was brave and courageous for the author to share her emotional journey (Linda Z). The writer's honesty shone through (Gail H). Harpham's account felt authentic and real, and from the heart (Diane W).

Others found it enlightening and inspiring:
This book will enrich the lives of all readers (Myrna M). The story was an eye-opener as to what is involved in the care of desperately sick children (Arlene M). It made me think about the understanding and support parents, relatives, and friends need when facing a major medical crisis involving such a young child (Janice A). It left me with a desire to do my part and look into being a donor. The hard decisions made by Harpham and her partner were explained in such a way that I often had to stop reading and consider what I would do in such a situation (Dorothy G).

Overall our readers enjoyed Happiness and recommend it highly:
This is the best book I have read this year (Arlene M). I loved everything about it (Barbara O). I started it on a rainy night, thinking I would fall asleep quickly, and ended up reading the entire book (Diane W)! It's so good, you will want to read it twice (Sherri G). I highly recommend this memoir, it was a definite page-turner and tear jerker (Miller W). It's one I will never forget and without any reservation recommend to all my friends and family (Candace F). Happiness would make an excellent book club selection (Barbara O).

This review was originally published in August 2017, and has been updated for the November 2018 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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