Through Net Galley I got a copy of “The Underside of Joy” to review. This is the debut novel of Sere Prince Halverson and I enjoyed it a lot.
When Ella Beene’s husband Joe dies tragically, Ella plans to continue her life with the family store and as stepmother to Joe’s two young children. But soon their absent biological mother shows up, and she wants to be part of their lives. Ella is torn between holding on to the children she has called her own, while trying to reconcile the presence of their biological mother, who she was told had abandoned them. Ella soon learns that Joe did not share everything with her, and she struggles to find the truth and make the right choices for her and her family.
This was a fascinating book as the main moral dilemma was just that: a dilemma. Paige, the biological mother, was not evil incarnate. Ella, the protagonist, was not perfect. I found myself often asking: what would I do in this situation? While the story concluded quickly, I felt it was well-written and compelling. Additionally, there was interesting information on postpartum extreme depression (actually psychosis I believe it would qualify as) and also internment camps for Italian-Americans during WWII (I’m IA and this was new to me).
This book came out this month – I recommend it!
Thanks to Net Galley and Dutton Publishers for my copy!