Friday, June 22, 2012
What Happiness Looks Like by Karen Lenfestey
What Happiness Looks Like, by Karen Lenfestey, is a moving story about two sisters and what their lives have become. Joely is a single mother raising her five year-old daughter, Anna. She is also dealing with the debilitating disease of Lupus, as well as her ex who has decided to make an appearance in her and Anna's lives after five years.
On the surface, Joely's older sister, Kate, seems to have it all. She has a great job, a lovely home, and a perfect husband. However, the one thing needed to complete the family her and Mitch desire is a baby, which doesn't seem to be in the cards for them. What Happiness Looks Like carries the reader through Joely's and Kate's struggles and triumphs as they each try to find their own version of true happiness.
Joely has a picture in her head of what happiness is. She dreams of a small, cozy house with a loving husband, who is a great father to Anna. She would also love to pursue her dreams of being an artist. Joely's reality is that she is an unemployed mother living with her sister, Kate. She hasn't picked up a paintbrush since Anna was born, and she long since gave up finding 'the one' due to her Lupus. Joely's one bright spot is Anna, who is a super bright and loving little girl that is full of life.
Kate's version of happiness is having her own baby with her husband. However, it's normally your best laid plans that fall apart. Kate and Mitch decided to wait until her career was established before trying for a child. Once she was ready for a baby it seemed her aging body had other plans. After miscarriages, IVF, and Artificial Insemination, Mitch and Kate have begun to drift apart. Mitch is ready to try using a surrogate, but Kate isn't prepared to let go of the dream of having her own biological child.
I really enjoyed Lenfestey's, What Happiness Looks Like. She wrote an honest portrayal of the struggles many women face today. I warmed instantly to the character of Joely. She was fun, witty, and a wonderfully, loving mother. I took me a little while to rally behind the character of Kate. I believe this is because at times I could see a little of myself in her. Kate was the older, responsible sister who worked as an adolescent counselor. She was super opinionated and wasn't afraid to share what she thought you were doing wrong. However, as What Happiness Looks Like unfolded, I truly began to like and feel for Kate. Beneath her cold exterior was a scared woman with insecurities just like everyone else. I quickly latched on to her story and wanted the best for her.
At the end of What Happiness Looks Like, Lenfestey wrote a passage that has stuck with me since finishing her book. Because it has resonated so deeply within me I felt I should share it with you in the hopes that it would do the same.
"All of this time she thought she knew what happiness looked like: building sandcastles on the beach, posing for the Christmas card family photo, hearing other moms say, "she looks just like you". Only now, seeing the dimple return to Mitch's smile, [...] now she knew the truth. She knew that happiness wasn't about any of those images. It was a feeling. And today everything felt right." (Lenfestey 261).
I am so glad I had the opportunity to read and review Karen Lenfestey's, What Happiness Looks Like. It is a great read that will pull at your heartstrings and leave you rooting for both Joely and Kate. It also has some nice romance throughout which is always a plus! If you order yourself a copy of What Happiness Looks Like, you won't be sorry!
Karen Lenfestey has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, What Happiness Looks Like, for the purpose of review.