The Underside of Joy: A Novel

“[An] beautiful debut . . . relocating and hopeful.” –People sort Watch

To Ella Beene, happiness potential residing within the Northern California river city of Elbow, California, along with her husband Joe and his little ones. yet one summer time day Joe drowns, leaving Ella on my own with Annie and Zach—until his ex-wife, Paige, exhibits up on the funeral. for 3 years, Ella believed that Paige had selfishly deserted her family members. Yet—as the custody struggle among mom and stepmother ensues—Ella realizes there's extra to the tale than Joe ever published.

The Underside of Joy isn't a fairy-tale model of step-motherhood, pitting solid opposed to evil, yet a charming tale of 2 girls who either declare to be the mum of an identical young children.

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After which below his breath, he whispered to me, “for a funeral. ” Aunt Kat, who continuously acted like a whole welcoming committee certain up in a single tiny lady, did have the ability to say, “Come to the home. We’re all going to the home. ” every body grew to become to me. David acknowledged, “How hospitable of you, Aunt Kat, to ask Paige to Ella’s domestic for her. ” I felt my mouth ensue in a grin; I heard myself say to Paige, “Yes, in fact, please do. ” by means of then she’d set down Annie, who stood among us in retrospect and forth, like a web pass judgement on in a tennis fit. My heels sank into the grass. Paige stated, “That will be gorgeous. My flight doesn’t go away until eventually the following day. thanks. ” I didn’t need to know something approximately Paige—not the place her flight used to be returning her to, no longer what she did for a residing, now not if she had extra teenagers, and if this is the case, no longer if she may loiter around this time to assist bring up them. yet ok. She was once leaving. She may cease through the home for an hour at such a lot to pay her respects to a guy she had basically now not revered whereas he was once alive, after which she may force off, and by way of the next day she might fly a ways, far-off, again to the Land of moms Who Left. Gil and David drove the youngsters and me domestic. David rotated to assert anything, then checked out Annie and Zach leaning into my aspects and obviously made up our minds to close up and face entrance. I stared on the oval scar at the again of Gil’s domed head, brooding about how lengthy it have been hiding below his hair prior to he’d shaved all of it off. used to be the scar from a early life wound, from a motorcycle coincidence in his children, or had it occurred extra lately? A quarrel with a loopy lover, ahead of he’d came upon David? Annie sighed and stated, “She’s beautiful! ” Annie used to be 3 whilst Paige left. How a lot may possibly she in all probability bear in mind? I requested her, “Do you have in mind her, Banannie? ” Annie nodded. “She nonetheless smells stable too. ” She remembered her odor. in fact. I’d inhaled each of Joe’s lately worn T-shirts, thankful now for my tendency to permit laundry pile up. I sunk my face into his gown at any time when I walked by way of the place it hung within the rest room, dabbed his aftershave on my wrists. in fact Annie remembered. on the condo I stored my distance from Paige. It was once effortless to inform the place she went, as the flooring appeared to tilt in her path, as though we have been on a raft and that i used to be made from feathers and he or she was once made from gold. Annie got here up and leaned opposed to me, and that i smoothed again her hair, ran my hands via her ponytail. Then she used to be off, taking Paige by way of the hand, prime her into the youngsters’ room. My fiercest best friend, Lucy, whispered in my ear, “That woman’s bought nerve,” yet not anyone else broached the topic. At funerals, it sort of feels most folks go away previous grudges at domestic. And but. I definitely didn’t are looking to chat it up with Joe’s ex-wife at the day of his funeral, or the other day. What did she wish? Why used to be she right here? Annie stored dividing her time among the 2 people, as though she felt a few kind of legal responsibility while she must have been taking into account not anyone except her six-year-old self and her daddy. Zach wore his direction among Marcella, my mother, and me.

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