The Underside of Joy: A Novel

( 32 )

Overview

“[An] exquisite debut . . . moving and hopeful.” –People Style Watch

To Ella Beene, happiness means living in the Northern California river town of Elbow, California, with her husband Joe and his two young children. But one summer day Joe drowns, leaving Ella alone with Annie and Zach—until his ex-wife, Paige, shows up at the funeral. For three years, Ella believed that Paige had selfishly abandoned her family. Yet—as the custody fight between ...

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Overview

“[An] exquisite debut . . . moving and hopeful.” –People Style Watch

To Ella Beene, happiness means living in the Northern California river town of Elbow, California, with her husband Joe and his two young children. But one summer day Joe drowns, leaving Ella alone with Annie and Zach—until his ex-wife, Paige, shows up at the funeral. For three years, Ella believed that Paige had selfishly abandoned her family. Yet—as the custody fight between mother and stepmother ensues—Ella realizes there may be more to the story than Joe ever revealed.

The Underside of Joy is not a fairy-tale version of step-motherhood, pitting good against evil, but a captivating story of two women who both claim to be the mother of the same two children.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“Engrossing and keenly affecting.” –Dallas Morning News
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452298736
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/27/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 685,043
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 32 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 6, 2012

    Loved This Book

    I loved every moment of this book.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 California charms even as its 'underside' is revealed. Read this book and be prepared for a journey into the lives of characters you'll root for, laugh and cry with, and finally, carry with you long after you close the book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 10, 2012

    A Wonderful Read

    This is one of those books that you can't wait to see what happens next! The author's powerful writing grabs you in to the story right from the start and takes you on an emotional journey that will make you laugh, cry, and get down right mad at times! Thoroughly enjoyed this book and the author's writing style. I believe this is Ms. Halverson's debut book -- definitely one of my new favorite authors, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2012

    Brilliant Debut by a Promising Writer

    The Underside of Joy was chosen as a BEA Editor's Buzz pick and after reading Seré Prince Halverson's debut novel, you can see why.

    I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak and the book grabbed me from the first page. My once voracious reading habit has dulled in the past few years (thanks to graduate school) and I can't remember a book that I just couldn't put down. While at work the next day, I wondered what was going to happen to Ella Beene, Paige and the kids. I finished the book in two days.

    The story is unique, the writing sublime, and I felt like I was really in touch with the characters. Halverson truly explored both sides of this complex story without taking sides affording the reader to make their own decision.

    A brilliant debut.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 31, 2011

    Well Deserved Buzz!

    A BEA Editor's Buzz pick, I loved this book. The story is heart wrenchingly beautiful. I highly recommend!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    Ble

    Hi.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    Rachel

    Smiles. Gtg bye.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    Kali

    Hello

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    Mitch

    Bye

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2014

    To any guy or girls

    I am a girl14 and i am looking for some nook sex reply to unicormluvr

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    To mitch

    Why did u leave?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    Luke

    Amber?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2014

    John

    Takes his hand out shoving his toungue in lapping up cu.m

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    Candy

    " cant you tied me " loocks at her tied wrists

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Mesmerizing, poignant, happy, heartbreaking. Told through the p

    Mesmerizing, poignant, happy, heartbreaking.
    Told through the point of view of Ella Beene, she is a fully realized character
    who makes mistakes, but never stops trying to do the right thing, even when
    she is not SURE what the right thing is.

    The writing itself is beautiful, and the plot twists and turns in ways I didn't
    expect, but what I loved is that there were no villains. A character would do
    something that I thought was horrible, and I would be so angry with him
    (or her) and then it would be revealed WHY s/he did that thing, and s/he had
    my total sympathy. Just another human being trying to do the best s/he could.

    This could be triggering to anyone who's lost a spouse, or a child, via death
    or divorce, or it could be empowering.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2012

    Good book but expected more

    I was expecting more of a storyline to this book. Not enough of an emotional book for me. To predictable.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2012

    This story was well-told. What could have been a heavy-handed m

    This story was well-told. What could have been a heavy-handed melodrama is lightened with humor and fairness. The depictions in the family dynamic are spot on and very real. The descriptions of the town of Elbow and its environs make you want to pack up your Birkies and go.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    What a treat my book club had when Ms. Halverson joined us at ou

    What a treat my book club had when Ms. Halverson joined us at our March meeting to discuss this book. This is the second time we've had an author at the meeting and I love those books (fortunately, they were 5-star books to me even before meeting the author) more because I get to find out the background and other tidbits that weren't in the book. This would include things like what was in the author's head when she came up with the characters, their names, the setting, events, etc. When I read a book that pulls me in, I am sad when it's over because I want to know more, I'm usually not ready to give up being a part of their lives ... this was one of those books.

    Very cool for me reading this book is that the location is literally a hop, skip, and jump from my house. The town of Elbow is fictional, but based on very real places and the other towns mentioned are real and around here. The subject matter is pretty heavy, so don't think you're getting a light and fluffy book. Even with the heavy subject matter, Ms. Halvorson has such a nice writing style that I didn't feel bogged down by what was going on with the characters, just concern and hoping things would work out in the end.

    Even without the author at your meeting, this is a great book for a book club. There is a lot to discuss and different characters to take "sides" with that will open up even more avenues of discussion. I definitely recommend this book. And if you're ever near Freestone, the cheese bread from the bakery (you can't miss it) is absolutely amazing!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2012

    The Underside of Joy looks at the role of the step-mother in fo


    The Underside of Joy looks at the role of the step-mother in forming a cohesive family and the threat that ensures when that bond is threatened. I admit that it forced me to walk in a different pair of shoes throughout the novel and I found a great deal of sympathy with both the biological mother and step-mother as they tried to bridge the gulf between them. Seré Prince Halverson has an easy style of writing that lets the words glide across the pages. A good read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2012

    The Underside of Joy I highly recommend The Underside of Joy. It

    The Underside of Joy
    I highly recommend The Underside of Joy. It is a wonderful story about finding hope when the unthinkable happens. The novel tells the story of Ella Beane, whose world is ripped apart when the love of her life, her husband Joe, dies, and the birth mother of her two children, Paige, returns to claim them. Ella is a very likeable character, strong and vulnerable at the same time. I was swept up in her story from the very first page.

    In this beautifully woven novel, Ella must uncover the truth, as horrific and heartbreaking as it is at times, and chose between what she believes is best not only for her and her beloved step-children, but what is right. Through her skillfully crafted prose and compelling cast of characters, author Seré Prince Halverson's examines how family deals with tragedy and loss, hurt and betrayal, secrets and lies.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 5, 2012

    This is Sere Prince Halverson's debut book and simply put, it is

    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 his two young children. When one day Joe breaks his own rule, to never turn your back on the ocean, Ella's world comes crashing down.

    With Joe gone, Ella is basically the sole care taker of the kids, but she has Joe's family, his parents and brother David, along with her friend Lucy to provide her with advice and support. She works to keep Joe's family business open and from being drowned in debt. On top of all this and her grief at losing Joe, Paige, the children's beautiful biological mother comes back into the picture and it seems she is hostile towards Ella and has a hidden agenda. But Ella is dealing with everything and doesn't have time to let Paige's machinations get to her. Until she receives a subpoena because Paige has filed for physical custody of the kids.

    I've given away too much of the story, but you have to understand Ella really loves these kids. She's keeping Joe's business and his family's history going, and she's raising these children as her own. When Paige walked out on them, Annie was 3 and Zach was only a few months old. They call her Mommy. So when Ella finds something that can change the course of the custodial hearing she's torn. Does she submit the evidence or does she keep quiet.

    Ms.Halverson has done an amazing job at writing this book and her characters. They're all complex, and definitely now black and white. The shades of grey make you relate and empathize to each and every character, even Paige. I was reading his book while in public and had to try really hard to keep my tears in control in different parts of the book. Ms.Halverson's descriptions are so apt, that I could picture myself on the beach, in the morgue with Ella, looking at Joe's body, the description of the Capozzi family's shop, etc. It was just evocative and stirring overall. I must say I am blown away by this book and by Sere Prince Halverson. She has a gift for writing and I look forward to reading her future books.

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