Thursday, January 19, 2012

BlogHer Book Club: The Underside of Joy

Did you stop by yesterday?  Were you confused?  A good blogger would have mentioned the day before if they planned to take part in an internet wide Blackout in order to fight censorship of the web.  Sorry about that.  If you are curious about the details of the SOPA and PIPA Bill and the reasons for the blackout, watch this video

Now on to the book review!

I recently finished reading The Underside of Joy, the debut novel by Seré Prince Halverson for the BlogHer Book Club (paid review... my opinions are my own.  Just like always) and I was left with nothing but mixed feelings on the book.  The main character Ella is an infertile woman who suffers five miscarriages before walking away from her husband and her life in Southern California.  While driving to... well, nowhere in particular, she stops off at a grocery store and stumbles upon the store owner who has two very small children and a wife who has left and said she will never be coming back.  She moves in and becomes wife and Mommy.  Like right away.  Like that very same day.

That story line alone somehow breaks my heart.  This woman was so desperate to be a family after her struggle with infertility that she just picked one up at the local grocery store.  No questions asked.  But the story actually begins three years after this chance encounter that led to the family of four, when her new husband and father of the two children is killed by a sleeper wave one morning.  His death leads to the revelation that Ella had been living in a bubble in regards to the details of their lives.  She knew nothing of their finances or the future of their small town store, and more importantly, she knew nothing of the details of her husbands first marriage or the biological mother of her two children, who returns to the picture to challenge Ella for custody.

The Underside of Joy takes you through the story of this grieving wife and mother who finds herself trying to save her family, save their store, and save herself.  The writing is excellent and the story was interesting, but I had a hard time in general with Ella.  Many of her decisions both before and after the death of her husband were just hard to understand and many times hard to accept.  Maybe her infertility and her desire to be a mother above all else just hit a little too close to home.

We will be discussing The Underside of Joy for the next month over at BlogHer!  Please come join in the conversation.

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