Emotional memoir


Happiness: A Memoir: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After

by Heather Harpham, Henry Holt, August 2017


Happiness is a memoir, a genre which hasn’t been a favorite for me recently, having read too many by people who I could not care less about. So I am a memoir grouch at the moment.

However, despite my grouchiness, Happiness is a memoir which I thoroughly recommend for many reasons. It is not a memoir that claims ‘because I did this, you can do it too’, or presents the writer as a star or great source of wisdom.

What it does present is a very unusual story of a complex relationship.

Harpham, a globetrotting extrovert, falls n love with her polar opposite, introverted homebody Brian. However, Brian is insistent that he doesn’t want kids and when Heather becomes pregnant, their relationship ends.

Heather travels home to California to have the baby, fully planning on bringing up her child alone, with the support of family and friends. But when her daughter is born with a life-threatening condition, she reaches out to Brian. He shoulders the responsibility of a sick child, becoming  involved in the decisions that could save his daughter’s life, and gradually the relationship between all three members of this little family changes and grows.

This is an honest memoir of a little family living through tragedy and struggle. Gracie’s illness needs extensive medical help, but the couple are not millionaires, making decisions as best they can and as best they can afford.

Humor is mixed in with the sadness and Harpham is very good at self-examination as well as capturing the character of those around her. Everyone can benefit from reading this story about the challenges life can throw at us and finding a route to happiness despite, or even because of, this. Highly recommended.


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