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Publisher's Summary

A shirt-grabbing 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.

©2017 Heather Harpham (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Like Being At A Riveting One-Woman Show

As a motherless non-mother, I didn’t expect to identify this much with a memoir about raising a sick child, about the impossible choices parenting requires, about having to hold fear and hope in the same hand. But the writing is so blazingly good, true, and precise, that sentence after sentence had me nodding with recognition: Yes, I know this exactly. Heather Harpham is a writer of such ability and intelligence that her struggle becomes your struggle; her revelation about the true state of happiness becomes your revelation. Hearing it in her own voice only makes that connection more personal.

30 of 32 people found this review helpful

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Loved and hated that the story ended...

This author, in my book, (no pun intended) has one of the most forgiving hearts. I admire that immensely! That she totally owns her shortcomings in every facet of her life is something most of us never even think of. Not without years of therapy anyway.
The delivery in words and tone made this journey very easy to hear, as painful as it was. I found myself avoiding germs and then catching myself. My heart felt like boiled mash at times. I celebrated out loud during the joyful parts. I cried silent, ugly tears over losses.
This book is for anyone, especially parents or loved ones, experiencing a long battle with severely ill children. Or for anyone like me-who loves a story told by a narrator who can deliver such a moving story in a gentle, but matter-of-fact manner.
I loved the story so much that I hated for it to end. I'm hoping there will be a sequel of everyday experiences about this family.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Should be required reading...

Read this book. Listen to this book. Immerse yourself in this life-affirming, heart-warming true story told with unflinching honesty and humor. You will fall in love with (just about) every character that graces its pages. Please don't be afraid to read a story about a sick child. Because it is not a story about a sick child. It is a story about a beautiful family. Another listener had a minor quibble with medical terminology. As a physician who spent months on bone marrow transplant units during my training, I did not register a single false note. In fact, I learned more about the emotional aspect of the transplant experience from the perspective of both parents and patients by listening to this book than I did from hundreds of hours caring for similar patients and their families. Ms. Harpham’s remarkable storytelling ability is exemplified by the glimpse of the world we are given through the eyes of her daughter Gracie, the small, sensitive, extremely bright child at the center of the drama. Gracie's relationship with the IV pole to which she is tethered is, alone, worth the price of admission. This unpretentious story should be required reading for medical students, interns, residents, attending physicians, nurses, social workers and all of the myriad healthcare personnel in whom families like Heather's put their trust and their lives on a daily basis. And finally, kudos to the author for a wonderful reading. I can't imagine anyone else doing this book justice.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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So. Incredibly. Good!

I am a reader of Audio memoirs. I read 30 a year. I can't even tell you how much I loved this book. So well written, beautiful language use, and a powerful story line. So. Incredibly. Good.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Relentlessly Sappy

Tedious and sappy quite possibly because it is a memoir but more likely because anything a baby does is fascinating to some . Possibly a book for mother’s only ..

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Long & Tedious. If Only She'd Had a Good Editor.

When I started the book, I thought, "What a good writer!" By the time I was halfway through I thought, well, she might have been an okay writer, but she really needed a better editor. She's in love with her own words. She's in love with her journals, in which she must have recorded every nuance, every cute word spoken by her children, every anxious fantasy, every argument with her husband AND THEN PUT IT ALL IN THIS BOOK. A good editor would have told her that if she includes everything, readers will be exhausted by what she writes. By the time her child was suffering, I had upped the speed on the reading, and instead of being moved, I was indifferent, eager to have this tedious accounting of every detail of this woman's life OVER. By including everything, readers will feel less, rather than more, deeply about what her child and her family went through. I was the perfect candidate to love this book. I've been a midwife, I've known seriously ill children, my family has been through very tough medical things and has more to come. I have a half-hour left to listen and I cannot wait for this to be over. This could have been a brilliant, moving book. In the end, I cannot recommend it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Could not stop listening!

I LOVED this story. It is real, heartbreaking, heartwarming and so open with all the conflicting emotions we all have around parenting and relationships. I would however, have preferred to read this book as the author/reader's voice was hard to listen to at many times.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Best Story (in a long time)

This (audio book) was one of the most compelling stories I have 'read' in some years. The continued struggle to stay in love, remain hopeful and always look (or hope) for the positive in some of the most heart-wrenching circumstances life could throw at this family was compelling and uplifting. Loved this Book!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • NM
  • 06-17-18

Disappointed use of 14 hours

I wanted so much to love this book. I really had to push through and I finished it as a goal. As a mother myself, the plot seemed interesting ...and as a Reese pick I was sure it would pay off. The story was just truly so long and sad though, I can’t even say I liked it. While I’m glad her family made it through this harrowing experience (spoiler) I could have just known “hospitals, scared parents, painful procedures on children, anger, questioning” and have gotten the gist of the novel without spending 14 listening hours.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Truly amazing!

I could not put this book down. A see saw of emotion, raw truth, simple moments of pleasure. Wow does this capture what it is to be human, love and be loved, hurt and be hurt, but mainly survive and thrive.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful