Today's guest: Sere Prince Halverson Why we love her: She's a beautiful writer who inspires us to up our game.
Her latest: The Underside of Joy (Now available in paperback!)
The scoop on it: To Ella Beene, happiness means living in the Northern California river town of Elbow, California, with her husband Joe and his two young children. But one summer day Joe drowns, leaving Ella alone with Annie and Zach—until his ex-wife, Paige, shows up at the funeral. For three years, Ella believed that Paige had selfishly abandoned her family. Yet—as the custody fight between mother and stepmother ensues—Ella realizes there may be more to the story than Joe ever revealed.
The Underside of Joy is not a fairy-tale version of step-motherhood, pitting good against evil, but a captivating story of two women who both claim to be the mother of the same two children.
Our thoughts: A riveting debut novel that kept us guessing all the way until the end.
Giveaway: FIVE copies. Just leave a comment to be entered. We'll select the winners this Sunday after 3pm PST.
Fun fact: Contest alert! Win a picnic for your bookclub! Just contact Sere by January 7th. Click here for the deets!
CHICK LIT IS NOT DEAD PRESENTS...SERE PRINCE HALVERSON'S 5 BEST EVERS
BEST SONG: I know you all understand this: I have hundreds of favorite songs. So on this day, at this moment, I’ll say that my favorite song is…(drawing from a hat)…”2000 Miles” by The Pretenders. Reminds me of a road trip to Washington with my sons.
BEST BOOK: Same caveat as above. Today, my best book is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Or maybe Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Or maybe…
BEST MOVIE: I also have many favorite movies, but my all-time favorite, the one I’ve seen a bazillion times and never get tired of, the one that makes me break out in song and break out in tears (yes, watching it with me is an experience in of itself) is The Sound of Music. It was the first movie I ever saw. I was four years old. I remember getting dressed up for a special night with my parents while my little sister stayed home with the babysitter. I remember a red velvet curtain and sitting between my parents in big plush seats. And I remember crying at the end, saying, “I want to go with Maria and the kids.” Ha! That must have made my parents feel great. I love this movie so much that it even worked its way into The Underside of Joy.
BEST MOMENT: I’m not just saying this because it’s the expected answer: The moment I became a mother. I was in a traditional hospital with a traditional doctor, but he asked me, right before my son was born (though I didn’t know if he was a son or a daughter at the time), if I wanted to help deliver him. I reached down and pulled him onto my stomach. I looked down into his squished, pure angel face and fell in love. I said, “Hello sweet baby. You’re so beautiful, but are you a boy or a girl?” Because I’d delivered him, the doctor hadn’t held him up and declared, “It’s a boy!” We had to turn him over and check for the evidence ourselves.
BEST ADVICE: “You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” This came from a dear family friend who’s like a very cool aunt and wise big sister wrapped up into one. Sully grew up in the fifties and early sixties and was considered “a career woman” who married later. She gave me this advice in the mid-nineties. I’d married young and had a couple of little kids at that time and was sort of floundering in my career and going through a divorce.
But I know lots of women who have great careers and marriages while their kids are little. It’s not just about that. It’s about the ins and outs and ups and downs, the phases of life, and how there’s always something challenging or missing and there’s always something miraculous going on too. She was advising me to not miss the miraculous while pining for the missing piece. Because the missing piece could very well show up later down the road, but the miracle at hand will soon only be a memory.
It goes something like this: The kids fill my life and heart to overflowing but I have no me time. I have tons of me time but I miss the kids. The bank account is fine but the relationship is not. The relationship is wonderful but work is not. The house is a mess and everyone’s coming over. The house is clean! Hey, where is everybody? The childhood dream finally comes true. But my dad doesn’t live to see it happen.
But when I look at the whole sprawling miraculous picture? It’s all there. My dad is there, big as life itself. And so are his grandkids, in all their different glorious ages, and me in all mine.
Liz and Lisa, thanks so much for having me on your wonderful blog. So appreciated!
Thank YOU! xoxo, Liz & Lisa