Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book Review: The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson

The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Publish Date: January 12, 2012 

Hardcover, 307 pages
Fiction, General Fiction, Women's Fiction
 ISBN: 978-0525952596

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
My Review:
How much did I love this book?  It is so heart-felt and beautiful and sad all wrapped into one package, but it's done in such a way that it doesn't feel depressing.  It feels like real life and I enjoyed reading the book and found it hard to put down.  I had to know what would happen next.

I loved reading about Ella.  She is thrust into a world that is not what she dreamed it would be.  First she loses her husband, then her step-children's mother, the children she has been raising as her own, comes back into the picture.  Her whole world is coming apart, but she tries to hold it together.  She also has all of Joe's family around her to help her along with most of the town of Elbow.  I loved watching the interaction with family and with her best friend and especially with the children, Annie and Zach.  That relationship read like a very real mother/children relationship and it was amazing.  Ella is dealing with lies and deceptions, hers and the childrens' grief and also the fight with Paige.  I love her, she is amazing, yet she feels real.  I think Ms. Halverson has carefully crafted her characters and done a wonderful job with them.

The plot is also heartbreaking but wonderful.  It moves quick.  I read one hundred pages and it felt like I had just been reading a few minutes.  The story moves quickly and sucks you right in.  There is no let up and while this is not a white knuckle type book, let me say you will not find a boring moment.  It's amazing and if I thought the characters were great, the plot was wonderful too.

The Underside of Joy is a complete package deal.  I loved the book, the characters and the plot made it a perfect read to me.  If you love the books by authors like Kristin Hannah, Jodi Picoult and others like them, then this is just the book for you.  It will make you think, it can make you cry, it can make you laugh and by the end you will be glad you read the book.  Thank you Ms. Halverson for this wonderful book.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Make sure you enter my giveaway and check out my interview with the author here.

About the Book:
THE UNDERSIDE OF JOY begins on the first dawn of summer 1999, when Ella Beene, a happily married stepmother, gets a sleepy kiss goodbye from her husband Joe as he leaves to snap some photos on their local rocky coastline.  It’s the last time she will ever see him.
In the wake of Joe’s accidental drowning, his two young children, Annie and Zach, cling to Ella. Their adoration is mutual: Ella is the only mother young Zach has ever known, and Annie retains only vague memories of their biological mother Paige, who Ella believed had abandoned her children not long after Zach’s birth. But then Paige arrives at Joe’s funeral to stake her claim and reestablish a relationship with her children. Suddenly, the definition of family takes on a whole new meaning and urgency to Ella.
Seré deftly weaves Ella’s story into a larger portrait of the fictional Elbow, California, a charming small river town where Joe’s family has run a mom-and-pop grocery store for two generations. As Ella soon learns, despite his best intentions, Joe hadn’t been fully forthright with her about just how much the business had been struggling—nor about his ex-wife Paige.
THE UNDERSIDE OF JOY is not a fairy-tale version of step-motherhood, pitting good against evil, but an exploration of a complex relationship between two women who both consider themselves to be the children’s mother. Their conflict uncovers a map of scars—both physical and emotional—to the families’ deeply buried tragedies, including Italian internment camps during World War II and post-partum psychosis.
THE UNDERSIDE OF JOY begins as an indelible portrait of loss, then broadens into a moving and provocative consideration of the true meaning of family.

About the Author (from the author): 
I am from a lot of places, but I now live in Northern California and it feels like home. I worked for 20 years as a freelance copywriter while I wrote fiction and raised kids. My husband and I have four grown children. I’m a mom and a stepmom, and I have a mom and a stepmom. The Underside of Joy is my debut novel.

FTC Information: I received this book through KMS Public Relations for an honest review.  I do make money from purchases made at The Book Depository and B&N.com, but all money is used to fund giveaways and shipping for giveaways from the blog.


_yay_ said...

Sometimes with all the wonderful romance books or the action-packed thriller I forget how GOOD a book about loss, family and friends can be. Thanks for the reminder! Sounds like a very emotional but rewarding read.
_yay_ @ BookthatThing!

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