Happiness isn’t a book about how you would actually attain happiness. It’s not even about happiness, so much. In fact, if you started reading it, it probably wouldn’t seem at all happy, at the start, at least. The funny thing about this book: you know it ends well. But while you’re reading it, it shatters your heart.
But the thing is: ultimately, it teaches you to find happiness with what you’re given. Cause it’s just so easy to take it all for granted. Simply put, this book gives some good perspective.
This is a memoir that talks about a particular period of the author’s life – an unexpected joy, but also the unexpected blow of finding out about being pregnant, being abandoned by her lover because of it and ultimately giving birth to a mysteriously, yet dangerously ill child. And then fighting to keep the child alive despite any and all odds. It’s gripping, it’s sobering and it’s very touching. All you have as an assurance is that you know it ends well, but it doesn’t ruin the suspense. You must know how it happens.
This book is beautiful, it has wonderful, poetic writing – and so much love, spilling from the heart of the author – for her baby. But it’s also incredibly sad, you could even say bittersweet, to see the child be so ill, although you know it’s going to end well. One could almost think Heather’s daughter’s sickness is in part due to the disappointment of feeling being unloved by her father, even though there is no way she could have realized any of that when she was just several days old. But it seems so symbolic, and this drama of real life is just as huge as any fictional story you could come up with. The father ends up changing his mind, coming back to the family and being a loving dad eventually (this isn’t even a spoiler), but the damage seems to be done. All of these points present ideas about how new parents are tried and tested, how many problems they have to solve – for some harder than others. It chews on the fact of what it means to be a mother or a father, what you ultimately want for your children. And how simple those things can sometimes be. Like another day breathing.
I guess the name Happiness is the best name you could come up with for this book, because it makes you feel how flawed is our way of imagining happiness. Happiness never lasts – it’s never a state. It’s a fleeting moment, it’s an idea. The book teaches you to see how important it is to value what you have now, and how little can be needed to actually make you happy, given the right (or the wrong – depends on the view) circumstances.
To be honest, the only thing that hindered my enjoyment of the book at times – how I couldn’t get over the fact that Heather’s husband eventually got his stuff together and figured out where he should be. I just kept seething during the entire book about how you can be such a … and do this to your family. Yet, the way both parents fight to sustain the child’s life is nothing short of inspiring. Even if it takes time to understand where you should be.
It’s not an easy book to stomach, especially if you’re very sensitive, or just queasy about medical issues. At one point, it details the life in a bone marrow transplant unit for kids, and it’s not a short period of time either. If you can’t handle this kind of stuff, the book is not for you. But it has so many important take aways, and it’s also so incredibly touching, that I think it’s definitely worth the read.
Heather urges to sign up for BeTheMatch.org and save someone’s life. Not everyone can have a relative for a donor!
I thank the publisher for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange to my honest opinion. You can also buy this book here on Book Depository. Using the provided link contributes to this blog.
Have you heard of this book? Are you into reading sensitive material like this?