August 2017 Indie Next List
“Heather Harpham's beautiful memoir is a deeply moving testament to love, commitment, and happiness. It might be difficult to find happiness while parenting a sick child alone, but Harpham's honesty about her struggles and fears allows us to connect to this story and see the beauty and happiness she finds. We watch in awe as she digs deep to do the difficult work, allows herself to be vulnerable as she seeks support, and practices patience in the face of anger. Harpham has found the happiness in moments, and her skillful prose will make your heart burst as you feel that happiness with her.”
— Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
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 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.
About the Author
Heather 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.