Saturday, January 14, 2012

(3)The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson

The Underside of Joy

Publication Date: January 12, 2012
Pages: 320

Thanks to Walt Disney Step-Mom's have gotten a bad rap for decades.  The "Wicked Stepmother" character has played such an integral role in so many Disney Movies that even to this day people,women have to battle the Disney stereotype when they marry a man with children.

In The Underside of Joy, new author, Sere Prince Halverson tackles those stereotypes in a most magnificent way. Ella Beene meets Joe shortly after his wife has left him alone with two small children.  It is not long before  Ella loves Zach and Annie as much as she loves their father.  She has easily slipped into the role of  "Mommy" and could not possibly love the children any more if they were her own.   Their fairy tale is playing out nicely until one tragic day when Joe dies unexpectedly, leaving Ella, the children, and their large extended Italian family shell shocked.  It gets even worse when the kids "Mama" shows up and expects to regain custody of the children.  Who should have custody of these two lovely children, the "Mama" who left them or the "Mommy" who has been raising them as her own?

There are not enough words to describe how much I enjoyed this book.   I am a Stepmother, a fairly new Stepmother, but a Stepmother nonetheless.  I have a Stepmother and my own Mother is a Stepmother. I can not say how GREAT it was to read about a Stepmother in a positive situation with kids who adore her as much as she adores them.  Ella's scenario is not one I am ever likely to be in, but if I were, you bet your bottom dollar that I would fight to the death to make sure my  Stepkids are in the best possible situation for them.  I also really enjoyed the subplot of Ella's Italian in-laws, specifically her Husband's Grandfather and the time he spent in an internment camp.  There are so many pieces to this story and when put all together you have an amazing tale of family, love, sacrifice and commitment.

Overall, The Underside of Joy is a wonderful read.  The characters are three dimensional, the plot is compelling, and there is discussion to be had over it all.   A perfect selection for your  next book club read.


Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I agree, there are too many negative portrayals of stepmothers. This sounds great, I thought about requesting it on NetGalley and now I wish that I had!

Charlotte's Web of Books said...

I think you should still be able to request it from Netgalley. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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