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Happiness: A Memoir: How to Build a Family Out of True Love and Spare Parts

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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  11,634 ratings  ·  1,014 reviews
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 st
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 13th 2018 by Picador USA (first published August 1st 2017)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,634 ratings  ·  1,014 reviews


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Karen R
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A powerful and heart wrenching story that touched my every emotion. Author Heather Harpham’s newborn Gracie was born with a life-threatening blood disease. This intelligently written memoir is frank, sad, uplifting and feels straight from the heart.

Heather and ex-boyfriend Brian are living on different coasts when she phones Brian to share the devastating news about baby Gracie. Brian admirably steps up to his responsibility and his steadfast dedication to Heather and Gracie is truly amazing. I
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Tanja Berg
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
"We understand that nothing given is permanent. Not wealth or well-being, not sweet dreams or morning coffee. Not a daughter or a son, a husband, lover, friend, mother. Anything, everything, is up for grabs, can fly back from whence it came."

I have made an active choice not to have children. I am long past changing my mind, and still this book nearly convinced me that I am missing out on something I might regret. This despite the fact that the story is about how the author had a very sick baby g
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Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
★★★★✬ 4.5 stars
Happiness isn't a book about how you would actually attain happiness. It's not even about happiness, so much. In fact, if you started reading it, it probably wouldn't seem at all happy, at the start, at least. The funny thing about this book: you know it ends well. But while you're reading it, it shatters your heart.
But the thing is: ultimately, it teaches you to find happiness with what you're given. Cause it's just so easy to take it all for granted. Simply put, this book
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Shannon
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to the publisher, Henry Holt and Company, via Shelf Awareness, for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
What a good book! I must confess that I am not a big memoir reader. It isn't a genre that I normally pick up on my own unless prompted by a friend or, in this case, give a review copy. I am very glad I gave this book a chance! It is such an honest look at relationships, love, parenting, illness. The humble admissions that we are not all ready or willing to be come parents, but that
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Diane Yannick
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Heather Harpham for spending 5 years to get this book right. Tough to write but finely crafted throughout. I came close to carrying my Kindle into the shower because I was so absorbed in Gracie's journey. The humorous touches made it all bearable. Even

I rooted for Brian throughout. Although he wasn't there in the beginning, once he committed he never wavered. For not wanting to be a Daddy, he had some mad skills. Heather put her own shortcomings on full display. She was totally enmeshe
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Obsidian
I always say that it's hard to write a very good short story or a memoir that draws you in. Unfortunately I was not engaged at all while reading this. Instead I found myself getting bored and just rushing through chapters. Harpham's memoir doesn't cause me to feel a thing which is weird considering the subject matter (her newborn daughter is born with a fatal disease) but maybe that is due to her obsessing over the relationship with her ex, then boyfriend, and eventual husband.

I think the writin
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Tonstant Weader
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Happiness: A Memoir‘s has the most delicious subtitle. It’s “The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After Happiness.” That alone is a good reason to read the book. About fifteen years ago, Heather Harpham was madly in love with Brian Morton. They were opposites in many ways: he was the planner to her spontaneous free spirit; he was rigid and ritualized while she was mercurial and chaotic; a writer, he lived the life of the mind while a dance, she lived the life of the body. More importantly, she w ...more
Misty Moseley-Helber
Nothing profound or memorable here. I grew annoyed with the author/mother and her terrible decision-making skills paired with her entitled selfishness. I couldn't help but feel like she forced the never-wanted-to-be-father's hand and got what she wanted no matter what the cost was to others. ...more
Tania
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Losing a child makes time reverse direction, flow backward. To survive loss on that scale, I imagine you have to become someone you make up, whole cloth, to impersonate you, for the rest of your life.

At the beginning of 2018 I made a decision to read more memoirs, and I'm so very glad I decided to add this one to the list. As the author is a writer the story is beautifully written, but more than that she feels like one of those "open" people you meet every now and again. She shares her experienc
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La La
I was really enjoying this story. The author's writing style was ideal for a memoir. It read like Literary Fiction and I loved that, but her entitled upper middle class clulelessness showed through too many times, and I found the last third of the story difficult to connect with; especially as a struggling single mother with a seriously ill child in previous years.

I was approved for an eARC, via Netgalley, in return for an honest review. I will not be reviewing this title on the blog because it
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Linda Zagon
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I would like to thank Henry,Holt and Company, BookBrowse, And Heather Harpham for the Advanced Reading Edition of "Happiness The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After" A Memoir by Heather Harpham for my honest review. The genres of this novel are Memoir and Non-fiction.

Kudos to Heather Harpham for retelling her story in such a captivating and intriguing way. The author does an amazing job in describing all the people in her life. It was refreshing to see the author's honesty. I feel that it was
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Donna Merritt
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a parent, reading a true story about a child born seriously ill is not easy. I'm glad I read this one, though. It was honest, sad, even funny at times. It reveals how a terrifying experience like this affects the entire family, including the relationship and romance between the parents. I rooted for this family all the way through. You will, too.

Note: There were some inconsistencies and typos, but I received an advance reader's copy, so I trust the corrections were made before the first print
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Sara
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-read
I thought this memoir was good, not great, which is why I'm giving it a 3.5 but rounding up to 4 stars on Goodreads.

What Heather Harpham went through with her daughter's health trauma is something I wouldn't wish upon anybody. How horrific to have to live years and years of surviving day by day, hoping and praying that this day is not your child's last. That she doesn't come upon some unseen germ that will end her life. Just the tiniest things could change the path of her life and that is just
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Mark
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This is probably the best contemporary memoir I have ever read.

It is the story of Heather, an actor and playwright, her partner Brian, but most of all their children, Gracie and Gabe, and the life-or-death bone marrow transplant that Gracie needs to survive.

Gracie was born with a rare blood disorder, and while she could have survived several years with constant transfusions, the only lasting hope was a bone marrow transplant. When Gabe is born, his blood is a close match to hers, and he doesn't
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Patty
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
What a beautiful book! Heather Harpham's first child, Gracie, was born with a life-threatening blood disease. To keep her alive, every few weeks she must return to the hospital for a transfusion. It is so much a way of life for Gracie that she believes it is something that everyone has to do when they are young. But then they learn that a bone marrow transplant can rid her of the disease. The only problem is that the cure is also life-threatening. At its core, the story is about relationships an ...more
Leigh
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not often a book makes me cry but this one got me - multiple times. ...more
Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After - Nevisande : Heather Harpham - ISBN : 1250131561 - ISBN13 : 9781250131560 - Dar 320 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2017
Camie
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From personal experience I know that having a chronically or terminal ill child changes your life. Not only in terms of who you are but in your entire world view. At times the mere fact that the world continues spinning or that someone's main concern today may be what to fix for dinner is unfathomable. It can also change your focus from keeping up with the broad bustling world to one where each day you are given becomes a gift; something to remember.
In Harpham's memoir she experiences all of th
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Lindsey Gandhi
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rw-bookclub
3.5 rating.

This memoir is good. For me it wasn't great, but it was good and it will pull at your heart strings. I am rounding up my rating because of the sensitive matter she wrote about, and like I said the book was good (no fireworks or explosions going off...). I want to give the author a lot of credit for sharing her story. First and foremost it cannot be easy to have a child with a disease that may kill them, to watch your child be in pain or suffer and then let's peel this onion back one
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Peg
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to the publisher, Henry Holt and Company, via LibraryThing, for an ARC of the memoir in exchange for my honest opinion.

I didn't know what to expect from this memoir. I got a wonderful surprise! It's both heartwarming and heart-wrenching to read the author's moving story starting with the birth of her daughter, Gracie. Heather Harpham writes so lyrically that I was fascinated throughout most of this memoir. Gracie was born with a rare blood disorder and Heather was devastated just like any
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Carolw
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“We understand that nothing given is permanent. Not wealth or well-being, not sweet dreams or morning coffee. Not a daughter or a son, a husband, lover, friend, mother. Anything, everything, is up for grabs, can fly back from whence it came.”

This book is not a “how to” guide to happiness, it is much much more than that. It is the author’s story of having a seriously ill child, struggles and joys, humor and sorrow. Making life changing decisions in relation to that child with her partner and with
...more
Blythe
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books, memoir
This was a book I wanted to love but struggled through page after page. I struggled to connect with Heather and her perspective. I even struggled to connect with Gracie as she battled for her life. Yet I kept trying, page after page. And then near the end, I finally realized why: Heather isn’t introspective. This memoir tells the facts of her family’s story and her feelings throughout, but reading it, I didn’t encounter Heather trying to understand those around her, much less herself. At the end ...more
Mary Lins
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete
I highly recommend "Happiness", a memoir by Heather Harpham. The writing is absolutely wonderful; when you say someone has "a way with words" or "can really turn a phrase" - that's Heather Harpham for sure; it's no surprise as she's also a playwright and performer.

"Happiness" recounts Harpham's experience as an unwed mother of a fragile infant with a rare blood disease, and the love story surrounding the family that she creates. I don't want to give anything away so that the reader can embark on
...more
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)


Many thanks to Henry Holt and Company for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rhonda Lomazow
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful lovely memoir.Heather holds nothing back from her surprise pregnancy Her boyfriends decision not to be involved.The birth of her daughter who is born with a health problem. The return of the baby's dad the life they form the reality of the baby's more& more serious disease.An at times heart wrenching memoir you will never forget.Thanks to @henryholt for sending me an arc of this memoir. ...more
Kate Olson
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderful motherhood memoir of the experience of having a child with a potentially fatal illness - it broke my heart but ultimately put it back together again and was told with the perfect mix of analysis and account of events as they happened years earlier. I listened to this book from Audible and the narration at 1.25x speed was just perfect - I highly recommend experiencing this story via audio.
Monica
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The beginning of this book was just wonderful. I loved the author's recounting of her relationship with Brian. And the story of her daughter's illness was interesting. But I found myself skimming over page after page of countless medical procedures and cute things that Gracie said. ...more
Jodi Kauble
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I put off this book and only read it because it was picked for the Reece Witherspoon book club. But I have to say that it was fantastic.
Becca
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LOVED this book! A beautiful yet tragic true story of sickness, family, and parenthood. I really enjoyed this book! The way the author told the story was flawless and descriptive without dragging on. I would recommend this book to parents and non-parents alike! It really makes you think “what if” and how you might deal with a situation like the one told in the book.
Sarah
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
3.5 stars

I ended up loving Harpham’s narration of the audio book even though her voice grated me at the beginning. It grew on me and gave her humour and sarcasm life.

Happiness, this book teaches us, is all about perspective and love. It deals with heartbreak and sick children, getting through life day by day and step by step, but always stopping to appreciate what you've got.
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Oregon Public Lib...: Happiness a Memoir 1 1 Jun 12, 2021 09:34AM  
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Joyce's Reading Log: Happiness by Heather Harpham 1 1 Jan 30, 2021 08:17PM  
Reese's Book Club...: Question #2 2 302 Apr 19, 2018 12:02PM  

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Heather Harpham is an American writer and theater performer, born and raised in northern California, who lives and works in New York. Her fiction, essays and reviews have appeared in MORE Magazine, Water-Stone Review and the Gallatin Review. Her writing for the stage includes six solo plays; the two most recent, Happiness and BURNING, have been presented throughout the US. Harpham's work has been ...more

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“I hope what she hears are directions for happiness; the happiness blueprint. But I don’t think there is one. We find happiness, if we find it at all, on accident. We trip over it on our own way somewhere else. It’s woven out of the oddest circumstances.” 5 likes
“We act out of a Molotov cocktail of conscuious and unconscious desires. And also, we just do stuff.” 3 likes
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