Sere Prince Halverson's debut novel was a pleasure to read. I love women's fiction and the beautiful Redwoods setting all helped create a great reading experience.
Ella is busy raising her husband's children with him, until tragedy strikes and she suddenly becomes a single mother. For the past three years she is the only mother these children know. When their biological mother, Paige, who deserted them, shows up seeking custody, Ella fights to keep these children with her in the only home they know. Paige suffered from debilitating post partum depression and did abandon her family in order to get care. She claims she tried many times to reconnect with them and sent many letters. Ella knows nothing of this, although there are a few other secrets Joe kept from her during their marriage that have cropped up after his death.
It is hard for me to imagine either woman living without the children. Halverson did a great job presenting both characters in a way that I could empathize with them both. I also enjoyed the subplot surrounding Joe's Italian ancestors who were sent to an internment camp because of their Italian heritage, a little known fact about the World War II years.
The Underside of Joy will also make a superb book club selection. I can see a lot of great discussion on this one.