I was emotionally exhausted after reading Seré Prince Halverson’s debut novel, THE UNDERSIDE OF JOY. It took all of my being to read what I can only describe as an "emotional rollercoaster." It’s been a while since I’ve read a novel that’s had me arguing with myself over what I would do, and still not be sure.
Ella Beene leaves an unhappy, childless marriage in San Diego and heads up the coast to Northern California, where she met Joe Capozzi. His wife, Paige walked out on him several months earlier, leaving him with a three-year-old daughter and a four-month-old son. They fall in love, and Joe's children, Annie and Zach, become Ella's. This is the family she’s been longing for.
Joe's dreams of being a photojournalist ended when it became necessary for him to take over the family grocery store. He still loves to take pictures and one morning he sets out for the beach to do just that. This time, he doesn't come back. A rogue wave catches him and pulls him under.
After three years of marriage, Ella thought she knew everything she needed to know about Joe. But Joe took secrets with him and left unfinished business behind. When Paige shows up at his funeral and makes it clear that she wants her children, Ella is devastated. Paige says she had suffered from postpartum depression and, fearing that she would harm the children, left to seek help. She insists that she sent letters to Joe and the children - letters that Ella never saw. The custody battle takes unexpected turns.
Reading THE UNDERSIDE OF JOY is a marvelous experience. It’s as if when one is reading the narrative, they're listening to a wonderful lyrical sonata ebb and flow as the grief, heartache and healing of the relationships finally find resolution. I feel privileged to have been given Ms. Halverson’s novel to review. It’s amazing to realize this is her first book. We can only imagine what wonderful work is ahead.
You can find Seré Prince Halverson on Facebook and at her website.
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