I was crying by the 18th page. The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson takes off at a run from the first chapter, immediately drawing you into the vivd world of Elbow, CA, a small town on the coast of Northern California.
The plot is not terribly unique - after the death of Ella's husband, Joe, Ella is enveloped in a custody battle over her two step-children, Zach and Annie. It's the compelling language and beautiful setting that sets this book apart, and makes you feel as if you're living the story. We're thrilled with descriptions of beach and Redwood forests that make it seem like Elbow is something out of a fairy tale. As Prince Halverson describes Ella's love for it, you can't help but love it yourself.
Ella becomes as close to you as your best friend. The friends and family surrounding her are full of life, down to the smallest town "character." Even her dog, Callie, comes to life as she comforts Ella through her trials. Who hasn't had a pet that stuck their nose under the covers at just the right time?
And her children - Zach & Annie - are completely real. They are bubbly and emotional, saying the wrong things at just the wrong time, and sometimes the right things, too. The whole family in Elbow comes to life and fill the pages with an idyllic small town scene - albeit filled with tragedy.
The second chapter wasn't the only time I cried - after taking this emotional roller coaster with Ella, you're bound to get a bit verklepmt over the outcome - but there are lots of lovely, warm moments in the book as well, and you won't be able to put it down.
Sometimes I do paid reviews for BlogHer Book Club, because I love reading, but the opinions expressed are my own. I promise, the next post will be about crafts.