Title: The Underside of Joy
Author: Sere Prince Halverson
Publication Year: 2012
Setting: California and LasVegas, NVSource: Net Galley
Date Completed: 4/7/2012
Rating: 4.5/5Recommend: yes
After her first marriage ended in divorce, Ella Beene thought she would never experience motherhood. Plagued by infertility, Ella's dreams of being a mother came true when she moved to the small, picturesque town of Elbow, California. It is there that she met Joe Capozzi, a handsome, single father and his (2) very young children: Zach, a few months old and Annie just 3-years old. Seeing Joe struggle to juggle the demands of being a single parent, she offered to help out with the children, and their relationship grew to something more. All along she is careful not to pry into Joe's situation by asking too many questions. She loves her life with Joe and the children.
Joe loves photography, and one day while trying to take the perfect photo, he falls off a rock and drowns. Ella is devastated, but not only is she without her husband, he leaves behind a lot of debt caused by the family's failing business, a local market. Debt and business failure which Ella had not been aware of.
When Paige, Joe's first-wife and mother of Zach and Annie shows up at Joe's funeral, it isn't long before her intentions are made clear. With Joe gone, Paige wants to raise her children, claiming to have the means and stability to support them. Just where will this leave Ella, who has been in the childrens lives all this time? Why did Paige leave her children and Joe? Slowly through discovered letters the truth is revealed.
Told through Ella's POV, the author has done a very good job examining the complexities of motherhood, and outlining both women's situations and positions. Ella, who is the only mother the children have really known, has had to stay strong and pull together not only the children, but to she has also had to find ways to make the family business viable once again. Paige's story is compelling as well, and deals with a very sympathetic issue. Each woman envies the other in some ways and both want what is best for the children as well.