" An] exquisite debut . . . moving and hopeful." -People Style Watch
To Ella Beene, happiness means living in the Northern California river town of Elbow, California, with her husband Joe and his two young children. But one summer day Joe drowns, leaving Ella alone with Annie and Zach--until his ex-wife, Paige, shows up at the funeral. For three years, Ella believed that Paige had selfishly abandoned her family. Yet--as the custody fight between mother and stepmother ensues--Ella realizes there may be more to the story than Joe ever revealed.
The Underside of Joy is not a fairy-tale version of step-motherhood, pitting good against evil, but a captivating story of two women who both claim to be the mother of the same two children.
"The writing in The Underside of Joy is as purely beautiful as the story is emotionally complex. When Ella Beene is wrenched from a state of unexamined happiness into confusion and grief, she finds that her only hope of emerging whole is to face searing and long-buried truths. Ella embarks on a difficult journey, both morally and materially, one that requires her to risk losing everything she most loves. I cheered (sometimes through tears) her every step." -Marisa de los Santos
"An exquisite debut...moving and hopeful." -People Style Watch
"Searingly smart and exquisitely written, Halverson's knockout debut limns family, marriage and a custody battle in a way that gets under your skin and leaves you changed. To say I loved this book would be an understatement." -Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
“A book club favorite.” –Associated Press
“Engrossing and keenly affecting.” –Dallas Morning News