The Underside of Joy by Seré Prince Halverson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a very well writen novel with underlying message that in order to fully feel joy, one must also know pain. It is also a beautiful tribute to a mother's love in spite of a past not conducive for love. Above all, through the journey, mothering does not have to include giving birth to love a child.
The story is told through the point of view of Ella, a stepmother who stepped into theshoes and life of another wife and mother who left her own when post partum depression became too much to bear. Ella loves her family completely but is soon confronted hard realities when her husband dies and the children's birth mother returns and makes a compelling case for Ella to see her choices in a different light.
The author starts with Ella's semi charmed kind of life and shifts the balance of the scales subtly in order for Ella to see how Paige was wronged by her husband and may have a legitimate claim to the children she left three years ago. Beatifully executed and compelling. Heartbreaking and hopeful.