...utterly gorgeous ... The story is told in riveting, plot-twisting fashion, and I’m loath to reveal a lot of plot points. 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.
In sharp and vivid prose, Harpham tunnels through the harrowing months ahead filled with hospitals, needles, and ICUs. While the book could have benefitted from some pruning, what keeps the reader reading is the writing. Apart from the long, twee title, Harpham's language is crisp, tersely evocative, and most bracingly for a book whose currency is pain, funny ... 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.
Harpham's writing is tender and frank; Gracie's character comes alive on the page — she's a spunky, funny child who accepts her illness stoically. She smells of 'French-milled soap and sourdough bread, almost too good to bear.' Harpham also writes honestly of her relationship with Brian — the cracks and fissures between them began with his initial rejection of their baby, but the problems continue because of her own prickliness. Happiness is a fast read, a compelling story about life and death, illness and health, and, above all, family.