“Heather Harpham's beautiful memoir is a deeply moving testament to love, commitment, and happiness. It might be difficult to find happiness while parenting a sick child alone, but Harpham's honesty about her struggles and fears allows us to connect to this story and see the beauty and happiness she finds. We watch in awe as she digs deep to do the difficult work, allows herself to be vulnerable as she seeks support, and practices patience in the face of anger. Harpham has found the happiness in moments, and her skillful prose will make your heart burst as you feel that happiness with her.”
— Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
“I loved this true tale of love that survives the stresses of a child born with a rare blood disease, a child that requires the full dedication of parents who are unsure of their long-term commitment to each other. I read it in one sitting.”
— Sarah Pease, Buttonwood Books and Toys, Cohasset, MA
Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine’s April 2018 book pick
A shirt-grabbing, page-turning love story that follows a one-of-a-kind family through twists of fate that require nearly unimaginable choices.
Happiness begins with a charming courtship between hopelessly attracted opposites: Heather, a world-roaming California girl, and Brian, an intellectual, homebody writer, kind and slyly funny, but loath to leave his Upper West Side studio. Their magical interlude ends, full stop, when Heather becomes pregnant—Brian is sure he loves her, only he doesn't want kids. Heather returns to California to deliver their daughter alone, buoyed by family and friends. Mere hours after Gracie's arrival, Heather's bliss is interrupted when a nurse wakes her, "Get dressed, your baby is in trouble."
This is not how Heather had imagined new motherhood – alone, heartsick, an unexpectedly solo caretaker of a baby who smelled "like sliced apples and salted pretzels" but might be perilously ill. Brian reappears as Gracie's condition grows dire; together Heather and Brian have to decide what they are willing to risk to ensure their girl sees adulthood.
The grace and humor that ripple through Harpham's writing transform the dross of heartbreak and parental fears into a clear-eyed, warm-hearted view of the world. Profoundly moving and subtly written, Happiness radiates in many directions--new, romantic love; gratitude for a beautiful, inscrutable world; deep, abiding friendship; the passion a parent has for a child; and the many unlikely ways to build a family. Ultimately it's a story about love and happiness, in their many crooked configurations.
Heather Harpham has written several solo plays, including Happiness and BURNING which toured nationally. Her fiction, essays and reviews have appeared in MORE Magazine and Water~Stone Review.
Harpham is the recipient of the Brenda Ueland Prose Prize, a Marin Arts Council Independent Artist Grant and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and SUNY Purchase and lives along the Hudson River with her family.
Happiness: A Memoir was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club x Hello Sunshine Book Pick.
Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine’s April 2018 Book Pick
An Indie Next Pick
One of Bustle's 13 Best Nonfiction Books Coming Out in August
"Happiness by Heather Harpham is a beautiful memoir that follows Heather’s story as she gives birth to a baby girl, Gracie, whose health—and life—are at stake. Heather reconnects with Gracie’s father as their daughter fights for her life, and the harrowing events that follow will have you up all night, reading to find out what happens next. There’s heartbreak, joy, and lots of love—I won’t give it away, but trust me: Have your tissues ready. I really loved this memoir, and I know you will too!” —Reese Witherspoon
“An amazing story of love (almost) lost, then found.” —People
"A heartfelt exploration of mortality and life, this memoir also explores the complex pulls and pushes of human relationships, and the deep debt we owe to family, friends, and modern medicine. At heart, it is a sobering mediation on the lasting impermanence of its titular emotion, happiness." —NPR
"Harpham. . . .[brings] us along on her raw, real journey of healing—not just of her child but also of her marriage." —Oprah.com, "5 Memoirs That Will Blow Your Mind"
"[Happiness is a] book about one of the healthiest romances I’ve ever seen committed to paper, about neighborly grace, about balancing one child’s needs against another’s. . . . Harpham’s memoir feel[s] not just moving but necessary...so perfect, so affirming, so buoyantly brave." —The Millions
"Utterly gorgeous. . .heartbreaking. . . staggering. . . If you’re looking for a book to love, I recommend it. . . .[Happiness] is told in riveting, plot-twisting fashion. . . .But I’ll say that it’s also told with care and courage and humor, and it will deepen your understanding of not just life with a sick child, but life." —Chicago Tribune
"Harpham's writing is tender and frank. . . .Happiness is a fast read, a compelling story about life and death, illness and health, and, above all, family." —Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Absorbing. . . .A beautifully-written, insightful tale." —Good Housekeeping, "The 21 Best new Books for Summer 2017"
"Harpham is a heroine for our times...captivating." —The Los Angeles Review of Books
"Heather Harpham's moving memoir, [Happiness] is a page-turner." —Redbook
"Happiness is an incredibly moving account of survival and love that will inspire readers to hold on tight to what’s truly important." —Booklist
"[Happiness] is filled with both pain and beauty, and [Harpham] shares a clear-eyed view of messy relationships and the journey toward something resembles joy...[A] powerful memoir." —BookPage
"In this moving memoir. . . [Harpham] describes with warmth, fearless honesty, and humor the harrowing saga of what happened after she gave birth...Harpham has written a heartfelt exploration of familial bonds and the sometimes incredibly bumpy journey one must take to get to contentment." —Publishers Weekly
"Recently, memoirs by such dazzling writers as Ann Patchett and Dani Shapiro have explored and illuminated happiness: what it means, how we find it, and how hard won it can sometimes be. Now add Heather Harpham and Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After to this stellar company. With intelligence and lyricism and compassion, Harpham gives us her story of the rocky road that sometimes leads right where you want it to." —Ann Hood, bestselling author of The Knitting Circle, The Red Thread, and Comfort: A Journey Through Grief
"At first glance, Happiness is a wry, honest, captivating story about parenting a sick child and that would be enough. But it turns out that Harpham is up to something even more interesting here, exploring the complexities of love. Told with abundant charm and insight, this book is a beautifully drawn portrait of one family—its comforts, disappointments and, on the very best days, moments of grace.” —Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, bestselling author of The Nest
"An extraordinary and bewitching book, Happiness has staked a claim among the most beautiful and moving portraits of parenthood and partnership." —Susan Cheever, bestselling author of Treetops: A Memoir, and Home Before Dark