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The Underside of Joy

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  1,707 ratings  ·  386 reviews
Set against the backdrop of redwood forests and shimmering vineyards, Seré Prince Halverson's compelling debut tells the story of two women, bound by an unspeakable loss, who each claims to be the mother of the same two children.

To Ella Beene, happiness means living in the northern California river town of Elbow with her husband, Joe, and his two young children. Yet one su
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published January 12th 2012 by Dutton Adult (first published 2012)
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The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Help by Kathryn StockettHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
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4th out of 59 books — 34 voters

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Community Reviews

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I wanted to like this book. It was recommended in several different places, and the summary hooked me in. The subject matter chosen was infinitely complex, and profound. It had so much potential to reveal so much about human nature.

What I got was a novel that became so predictable by the middle that it was almost boring to continue to read it. I already knew what they were all going to do and what was going to happen next; I just had to keep slogging through the rest of the obvious words trying
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
The Underside of Joy is a touching story of happiness and sorrow, motherhood and family. After fleeing her broken marriage, Ella stumbles upon her soul mate in the tiny town of Elbow, California. Dazzled by Joe's good looks and the gorgeous children in his arms, Ella can hardly believe her luck and after a whirlwind courtship she is happily ensconced in family life. Then one morning, just three years later, Joe doesn't come home and Ella's perfect world comes crashing down. At his funeral Joe's ...more
The Underside Of Joy
Sere Prince Halverson

My Thoughts...

I started crying on page 14...I wish I could tell you why but when you read it you will understand why it's best that you find out for yourself.

This very sad event is what is the heart of this story which is not so much a story of sadness but a story of hope. But you have to live through all of the sadness to experience what is on the other side.

Oh...there is sadness but there is also so much more. Characters are shared, explained, challen
Um livro cujo título é bastante enganador relativamente à estória que apresenta. Eu, pelo menos, supus que fosse algo a puxar para o romance lamechas mas a verdade é que é muito mais que isso. Mais uma vez lembro as editoras para os títulos que escolhem para as versões dos livros. Este passar-me-ia ao lado se não lesse a sinopse e me baseasse apenas e só no título...

Entremeado com momentos da actualidade e flashbacks temporais, esta obra faz-nos pensar com, intensidade e profundidade, nas relaçõ
Laura Kay Bolin
1 Kings 3:16-28, the Bible tells of a story of two women fighting over who was the the mother of one living child. The case was brought before King Solomon, who said he would cut the baby in two, so both women would have the child. One of the women yelled out, "Please, my Lord, give her the living baby! Don't kill him!" After the woman yelled this out he handed her the baby proclaiming, she was indeed the child's mother (NIV).

The Underside of Joy is a heart-wrenching story of two mothers fightin
I am so glad I was able to get a preview copy of this book. The Underside of Joy is beautifully written. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. And now I can’t stop thinking about and missing the characters. It’s about grief and love and marriage and motherhood and step-motherhood (really aren’t they the same?). It’s about family and all the ways we’re shaped by past generations and how our choices and actions shape future generations.
Ella is a woman who can’t have any kids

There are not enough words to describe how much I enjoyed this book. I am a Stepmother, a fairly new Stepmother, but a Stepmother nonetheless. I have a Stepmother and my own Mother is a Stepmother. I can not say how GREAT it was to read about a Stepmother in a positive situation with kids who adore her as much as she adores them. Ella's scenario is not one I am ever likely to be in, but if I were, you bet your bottom dollar that I would fight to the death
Read this book! It's an honest portrayal of motherhood and family, touching without verging into the melodramatic, and so much fun to read. Once I started I could not put it down until I found out what happened to Ella, Paige, Annie, and Zach.
Warning: this book will make you want to drop everything and book the next flight to northern California--or maybe drive your car to the nearest great Italian restaurant. Really evocative images mixed with great characters and an absolutely compelling story
I won this book thorugh Goodreads. I couldn't put this book down. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the book showed that there are 2 or more sides to every story.
This was the underside of joy, all right.
The premise of this was actually quite strong, which made the lousy execution all the more devastating. Ella (Ella Beene, actually. Yeah.) is a woman who, after several years with the wrong man and an inability to have children, finds love the second time around with a man who, conveniently, comes with two ready made little kids and an ex wife who walked out, depressed, refusing to take care of her children. Joe, the husband, dies one day rather suddenly,
Laurie Richards
I was privileged to read an ARC copy of "The Underside of Joy," due for release next January. This is a loving account of how a step-mother works through the tragic aftermath of her husband's death and the re-emergence of her step-children's mother who seeks to claim her place in the youngsters' lives. Ms. Halverson gives us an excellent and true depiction of the warring emotions in all the family members, and the ending both satisfies and inspires. It doesn't often happen for me that my eyes te ...more
What makes a woman a mother? Is it biology or an overwhelming love for her children? When young Ella Beene is suddenly widowed and left with two step-children, she resolves to make their lives the best she can. But when the biological mother enters the scene, things get complicated. She decides to live in truth for herself and the kids, and generations of secrets must come to light to make that happen. This is a book that runs the gamut of emotions; love , regret, jealousy, redemption and finall ...more
Paula  Phillips
They say happiness is something that you are born with , it is in your DNA. As "The Underside of Joy" teaches us that happiness is something that we experience but in a way I do believe that it is in our outlook on life and in our DNA whether we have a postive or negative outlook on life and depending what our perosnality and life outlook is , thats the measure of how much happiness one can experience. Ella Beanne , passed through a small town called Elbow three years ago and never contemplated ...more
Two mothers and two children that mean the world to them both in many different ways. For Ella Beene life became complete the day she met Joe and his two children Annie & Zack, but after his sudden & tragic death all of life’s joy seems to slip away from her. For Paige her life ended when she walked away from Joe and her two children only three years prior and the news of his death becomes a reason to live again and to make up for the moments missed. In the months that follow a struggle ...more
it was probably unwise of me to read a novel about a blissfully happy woman married to her dream man, stepmother to his two delightful young children, living the good life in a charming little cottage in northern california, whose life is upended one day when her husband suddenly drowns. especially while i am pregnant. i already have a pathological fear of my partner dying in a freak accident; this book did me no favors in that department.

& i guess halverson read a few books about how your p
Review first published on my blog:

The Underside of Joy is a book of a family - the one we are born with and the one we choose. Ella Beene has stumbled into and found a loving family - Joe and his children Zach and Annie and the whole clan that surrounds them. She is a mother to Zach and Annie whose birth mother left when they were very young. However, at the beginning of the book, Joe is an accident and dies. The birth mother comes returns, and a custody
Tamamı için

2 gündür elimden bırakamadığım Mutluluğun Öteki Yüzü bitti ama nasıl bitti bir de bana sorun.

Böyle aile hikayelerini okumayı çok seviyorum. Hikaye kurgu olsa da daha gerçekçi geliyor. Sanki bir kapıyı çalsam onlara rastlayacakmışım gibi hissediyorum.

Mutluluğun Öteki Yüzü içinde aynı şey söz konusu. Çok içten, duygu yüklü bir hikaye. Konudan bahsetmeyi seven biri değilim, ki arka kapak yazısı hatrı sayılır ölçüde bahsediyor, o yüzden ona değinmeyeceğim. Açıkçası, bana neler hissettirdi
Susan Johnson
Being a stepparent is not easy. Everyone watches your every move to make sure that you don't make a mistake. Birth parents are allowed mistakes but stepparents aren't. And nobody really understands the depths of your love for these children- that there are times when you forget you didn't give birth to them. I know. I raised four stepkids as the primary caretaker. If the absent mother had tried to waltz in and take custody of my kids, I would have NEVER reacted the way Ella Beene did. It just go ...more
This is a very well writen novel with underlying message that in order to fully feel joy, one must also know pain. It is also a beautiful tribute to a mother's love in spite of a past not conducive for love. Above all, through the journey, mothering does not have to include giving birth to love a child.

The story is told through the point of view of Ella, a stepmother who stepped into theshoes and life of another wife and mother who left her own when post partum depression became too much to bea
Chelo Diaz-Ludden
I just read an ARC (advanced reader's copy) of this book and loved every moment.
When Ella loses her husband she assumes she'll raise the step-children she loves as her own. Then their 'real' mother shows up to claim them and so begins a tug of war between two women for custody of the children they both love. Just as in real life, there are no easy answers and therein lies the beauty of the book. But it is easy to fall in love with the characters. The setting will also draw you in; northern Calif
This was extremely well written, almost to a fault. I read it in nearly one sitting, having started it at 7 in the evening and pausing for a little sleep at 4am, only to awaken four hours later to finish the last few chapters.
Compelling, authentic, real. There was never an exchange between characters that didn't feel true. As a Mom and a stepMom, I knew going in that I would know if the story ever deviated from genuine emotion and experience. It really never did. The protagonist may have handle
What starts as a light ride turns into an emotional roller-coaster. The pain is so palpable and the emotions had me running for a tissue. The story is poignant and motherhood is portrayed in a very beautiful way. The unpredictability of life and the struggle to carry on is tough enough but when you are on the verge of losing everything that you count as your life as you know it is heart wrenching. My kudos to the author for delivering such a treat.
Nunca vou compreender esta necessidade de modificarem o título original de um livro com a tradução para a nossa língua. É fácil de perceber qual é o maior amor do mundo, mas a história também explora a camada de dor que todos nós temos de suportar de forma a alcançar a felicidade, daí o original The Underside of Joy. E depois de ter terminado o livro, senti, de facto, o outro lado, aquele que se esconde por detrás da ilusão da felicidade. Confesso que fiquei surpreendida pelo nó na minha gargant ...more
A lovely read full of emotion and surprises.
I’m not giving anything away by saying that I loved these lines from the concluding paragraph: ‘I know now that the most genuine happiness is kept afloat by an underlying sorrow. We all break the surface into this life already howling the cries of our ancestors, bearing their DNA, their eye colors and their scars, their glory and their shame. It is theirs; it is ours. It is the underside of joy.’ I wasn't thrilled though. This book was not the type that draws you back, away from what you should ...more
İnci Puyan

Arkadya Yayınları'nın yeni incisi Mutluluğun Öteki Yüzü. Kitabın kapağının sevimliliği, insanın içini kıpır kıpır eden renk tonları ve üzerindeki aile fotoğrafları ile göz alıcı olduğunu söylemeliyim. Bence oldukça albenisi olan bir kapak. Ahh bir de Arkadya'nın kendilerne özgü olan püsküllü ayraçları... Ne sevimliler ama :))

Her yorumumda yaptığım gibi önce yazarın dilinden bahsedeceğim ve sonrasında kitabın yorumuna geçeceğim.

Yazarın dili oldukça akıcı v
4.5 stars. I started reading this immediately after finishing The Hunger Games, so it took me a few days to shift gears and transition into such a heavy and emotional story after the suspense and tension of HG. It was hard for me to get into this story at first, probably because of that stark contrast of the previous book that I adored, but once I got into this I was hooked.

Beautiful story about a woman who loses her husband and then has the bio-mom of her step kids show up and want custody. Of
This is Sere Prince Halverson's debut book and simply put, it is beautiful.

Ella Beane and Joe Capozzi, Jr. have been married for three years. They met and had a whirlwind courtship and were married in a few months after meeting each other. When Joe and Ella met, both were having/running away from their pasts/problems. Ella had just left a marriage broken by her inability to carry a child to term, and Joe was dealing with the fallout of his wife Paige leaving without warning and trying to raise h
Ella may have had her problems, not least of which is a marriage that has fallen apart due to being unable to have children. One day she finds herself in the small town of Elbow where she runs into Joe Capozzi , a single father of two. Ella swiftly falls in love with the whole family and settles into life in Elbow. One morning, Joe goes missing in the water and is discovered drowned. The children need a parent and in the absence of their biological mother Paige, she loves and supports them whils ...more
 ★ Monica
Um livro com o titulo forte e marcante, e sim os filhos são o nosso maior amor do mundo!

Baseado em relações actuais e memórias do passado esta história gira em volta de relações humanas, uma história que podia ser verídica, entre amigas, mães, avós...mulheres!
Todo o livro aborda vários temas: a morte, a depressão pós parto, a violência infantil.

A escrita é de fácil leitura e absorção, fluí naturalmente e lê-se num instante, mas acho que a história poderia estar mais desenvolvida, e ai sim poderi
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I became a writer because I loved to write, and I was blessed with an utter lack of any other talent. (Can't sing, dance, or hit a softball far enough to make it to first base. Sad but true.) I read and wrote stories from an early age. Books opened me up and made me feel more connected. Great writing can show you what it's like to be in another's shoes but can also make you feel less alone in your ...more
More about Seré Prince Halverson...
The House of Frozen Dreams Cuando tú no estés Untitled Halverson 1 Reader's Digest Select Editions, Volume 321, 2012 #3: A Dublin Student Doctor / The Underside of Joy / Three-Day Town / Emory's Gift

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“I know now that the most genuine happiness is kept afloat by an underlying sorrow.” 12 likes
“We all break the surface into this life already howling the cries of our ancestors, bearing their DNA, their eye colors and their scars, their glory and their shame. It is theirs; it is ours. It is the underside of joy.” 2 likes
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