HAPPINESS

The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After

Heather Harpham

A shirt-grabbing, page-turning love story that follows a one-of-a-kind family through twists of fate that require nearly unimaginable choices.

Happiness begins with a charming courtship between hopelessly attracted opposites: Heather, a world-roaming California girl and improviser and Brian, an intellectual, homebody writer, loathe to leave his Upper West Side studio, whose sly humor and kindness dissolve their differences. Their magical interlude ends, full stop, when Heather becomes pregnant—Brian is sure he loves her, “If I wanted to have kids with anyone, it would be with you.” — only he doesn’t want kids. Heather returns to California to deliver their daughter alone,

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A shirt-grabbing, page-turning love story that follows a one-of-a-kind family through twists of fate that require nearly unimaginable choices.

Happiness begins with a charming courtship between hopelessly attracted opposites: Heather, a world-roaming California girl and improviser and Brian, an intellectual, homebody writer, loathe to leave his Upper West Side studio, whose sly humor and kindness dissolve their differences. Their magical interlude ends, full stop, when Heather becomes pregnant—Brian is sure he loves her, “If I wanted to have kids with anyone, it would be with you.” — only he doesn’t want kids. Heather returns to California to deliver their daughter alone, buoyed by a tribe of family and friends. Mere hours after Gracie’s arrival, Heather’s new mom bliss is interrupted when a nurse wakes her, “Get up, get dressed, your baby is in trouble.”

This is not how Heather had imagined new motherhood—alone and heartsick, an unexpectedly solo caretaker of a baby who, though she smelled “like sliced apples and salted pretzels” was, perhaps, perilously sick. Brian reappears as Gracie’s condition grows more dire; together Heather and Brian have to decide how much 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 something precious: a cleared-eyed, warm-hearted view of the world, as we truly live in it. Profoundly moving and subtly written, Happiness radiates out in multiple directions—new, romantic love; gratitude for a beautiful if inscrutable world; deep and abiding friendship; the passion a parent has for a child; and the many different and unlikely ways a family can be built. Ultimately it’s a story about love and happiness in their many crooked configurations.

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  • Henry Holt & Co.
  • Hardcover
  • August 2017
  • 9781250131560

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$27.00

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About Heather Harpham

Heather HarphamHeather Harpham has written six solo plays, including Happiness and Burning which toured nationally. Her fiction, essays and reviews have appeared in MORE Magazine and Water~Stone Review. Harpham is the recipient of the Brenda Ueland Prose Prize, a Marin Arts Council Independent Artist Grant and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and SUNY Purchase and lives along the Hudson River with her family.