Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review: Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham

I love me an agony memoir. I have loved (and sobbed over) An Exact Figment of My Imagination, Comfort, and What I Thought I Knew. So when I got this book, it seemed right up my alley except... the title seemed off. Happiness? That doesn't sound like an agony memoir, although the set-up sure does. What was going on with that?

Heather was happily in a serious relationship, living in New York, and making progress with her writing. The one down side was that her boyfriend was adamant about not wanting kids. And Heather was pretty sure she did want them. But she thought she could postpone that difficult conversation for another day. Until... she was pregnant. (Yes, someone this adamant should have done something more permanent or at least been rigorous about their birth control but that's not the point here.). And he was serious. Because he broke up with her.

Despondent, pregnant and alone, she decided to move back to the West Coast where she grew up. Her mother's tenant was about to move out of her guest house and Heather could live there rent-free while she sorted through the pieces of the life that had been so happy just a few weeks earlier. She was shattered by the sudden and dramatic end of her relationship, but she didn't wallow in her despair. She decided she had to get over it and move on, for the sake of the baby. And she was making progress in that area when the baby, Grace, was born, and had severe health issues right away. Within the first 24 hours she was med-evaced to a bigger hospital as she needed an immediate blood transfusion. Heather was shocked as nothing had ever hinted at any problems with Grace beforehand, so she was utterly unprepared. And now the doctors can't figure out what's wrong with her. But she needs another transfusion. And another.

I don't want to give more away, but suffice it to say that her positive and one-foot-in-front-of-the-other attitude was refreshing. Not that I think the authors of the previous agony memoirs I've read handling things poorly--when horrible thing happen, not all of us have the support of fortitude to proceed with such a positive outlook. And Heather is no Pollyanna either. But it still was refreshing to me to read a different take on how to handle things when everything goes in the shitter.

I got this book from free at work, because it is published by Macmillan, my employer.

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