Member Reviews

This is a somewhat hard book for me to review. The reason being that I found it infuriatingly aggravating and intensely frustrating in places. That being said it's a great story. Just getting from point A to point B seemed to take forever...

This is one of those stories that I was looking forward to reading. I had read a few reviews that talked about how beautiful the story was. How heartwarming and heartbreaking it was. All true but with other feelings also. While I did think the story was so good I found the main narrator, Mia, grating. She was so self-centered. So hardheaded. Maybe that is the right words. She would say things then contradict herself or do something then say never again only to turn around and do exactly that. It was very hard for me to like her or engage with her. She was super smart but in a way that just makes you not like her. While I do think she loved her family in this story, I'm afraid she didn't much like them. Most of them. At least that is how it came across for me.

Mia's younger brother Eugene, who is autistic and can't talk, comes home from an outing with their father. Alone. With blood stains on his clothes and under his nails. What happened. Did he get angry and accidentally hurt their dad. Or is it something deeper. Something that they may never know.

I won't go into all that this book is about because you can read that in the synopsis for yourself. I will say that the story that is told from Mia's POV is about what this family goes through. What the detective puts Eugene through. Or tries too. The accusations and the fears. This boy can't talk but he can communicate. He knows what happened. But did it really happen the way he says. Is their father really gone or is he performing another experiment? This book is full of things that will make you wonder and make you cringe. Make you gasp. Make you question what may have happened.

While I didn't love this book I did like it. I found parts of it annoying and uninteresting. The footnotes... I just didn't like that part and felt it took away more than it helped. I also would have loved to hear John's or their mother's POV. I would have loved hearing their father's POV also. But that is not how it's written. Yes it's good. It will hold your interest. It will keep you wanting to know what happened on that day. I adored Eugene and I liked John. Mia just got on my nerves. John and Mia are twins. This family is biracial. White and Korean. While it does not have any racial slurs or impacts going on it does have some teens making fun of Eugene and calling him names. Shame on them.

Read the Author's Notes at the ending. There is some great info there.

Thank you #NetGalley, #AngieKim, #BOTM, #RandomHousePublishing, for this ARC. This is my own true thoughts about this book.

4 stars up from 3.5

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Really enjoyed this! Angie Kim is a go-to for me. I truly appreciate her ability to create a fast-paced thriller vibe with the family drama dealing with issues like race, class, and disability so effectively.

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I hadn't read but had heard a lot about Angie Kim's "Miracle Creek" and was compelled to pick this one up. I now understand the conversation. Kim is writing about sensitive topics with incredible complexity, and especially addressing disability in a messy, raw, and yes sometimes contested way. Happiness Falls asks a lot of questions about the assumptions we make, about disability, about language, about communication, about understanding. I acknowledge there may be concerns about representation, especially from actually autistic people, and I want to honor those concerns. This writing does skew YA, as the narrator is a 19-year-old, so there is that to consider.

While I personally found this an interesting read, I don't think I have an audience for it in my little shop.

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This was the best book I have read this year. Absolutely stunning. I adored this book. All of the characters were three-dimensional and fully fleshed out. They had distinct personalities and voices that felt so, so authentic. Angie Kim is an astonishing talent and I am excited to read Miracle Creek next, and all of the books she writes in the future.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC. I also purchased the audio book on my own, and that was amazing as well.

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Happiness Falls is an engaging novel that kept me captivated from start to finish. The story is rich with well-developed characters and a compelling plot that seamlessly weaves complex themes into the narrative. The protagonist's journey is both relatable and thought-provoking, and the beautifully described setting adds depth to the story. While the novel has some intense moments, they are balanced with lighter, reflective passages. Though a few sections felt a bit slow, it didn't significantly detract from my overall enjoyment. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a well-crafted, engaging read. Four solid stars.

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Complex layers that create an intricate tale. Just like her other book it combines, heart, compassion and forgiveness.

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Thank you to netgalley for providing an e-galley for review. Happiness Falls starts out as a missing person mystery and ends up being an exploration on communication and linguistics. The coming together of the family set against the search of the father made this unputtdownable.

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This is my first Angie Kim book. I wasn't sure what to expect from the book, but I liked the story. The son's character was very interesting to me and gave me some things to think about in terms of how situations are sometimes perceived.

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When a father goes missing, the family's only way to determine what happened is to depend on Eugene, the youngest child in the family. But, Eugene is non-verbal. Mia and John, twins, and Dr. Hannah Park, the mother and a linguist, try to understand what happened to their father, piecing together various clues. A notebook is found, labeled HQ. Mia determines this to be Happiness Quotient, a project her father is exploring. Throughout the novel, questions around Eugene's involvement surround the family, and his difficulty in communicating what happened causes the police to be suspicious.
The book is very interesting, and made me think about communications in a different way. I also enjoyed the way the family came together.

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This was one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year, and i loved so much about it. The set up is great- it’s about a biracial korean american family in virginia whose lives get upended when their father goes missing.

The whole story is narrated by Mia, the snarky, hyper analytical twenty-year-old daughter of the family. This is set during Covid and she is home from college b/c classes are being held remotely- so she isn’t initially concerned when her father and younger brother Eugene don’t return from a walk in a nearby park.
She figues they must have lost track of time, or that their phone died. But then her brother, who is non verbal, comes home bloody and alone, she knows something is up. Her dad would never leave him..
The rest of the story goes on to try and solve the mystery of where their father is. Did he go on his own? Was something more defarious at play?

The adjective i keep using to describe this book is layered. It’s complicated- and it’s about much more than finding the father’s whereabouts. The author adds in a lot of footnotes that are informative but tangential to the plot- i liked them, but it did take me out of it. It’s about language- and the assumptions that people make about those who speak outside of their first language, or those who cannot speak at all. It’s about family and communication, and the lengths we’ll go to to maintain the status quo. This was our september community read for our patreon community- and i loved the discussion we had. The book is not perfect- it raised some questions about the research that went into the book and the plausability, and there were some mixed thoughts about the ending, but its still very much a worthwhile read. I like that it gave my brain a workout. I also loved the authors note- she shares her inspiration for writing this in a really touching way. If you like literary fiction about families, this could work for you.

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This is a very original story about the family of a father who is suddenly missing. It is especially affecting because the youngest child is cognitively divergent and the family revolves around what they believe are the needs of this child. Interestingly, the parents and the other two siblings are quite remarkable in their own individual talents and intellectual abilities. While each member of the family is enmeshed with the others, each also live their own separate, goal-oriented life.. When the father disappears, the family unites and each one contributes to solving the mystery (which itself is quite multi-faceted) by utilizing their individual talents. A very compelling tale with well drawn characters and a a unique, very well developed story.

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This is more than just a mystery/thriller -- it's a complex narrative about family, folks with disabilities and other complex topics. Angie Kim is an excellent writer and I look forward to more from her.

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Narrated by Mia, a twenty-year-old member of a Korean American family, the story unravels the intricate dynamics within her household. Mia is portrayed as a genius, emotionally reserved, skeptical, and straightforward, much like her father, while her mother specializes in linguistic studies. Their family dynamic is further shaped by Mia's twin brother, John, who contrasts her pessimism with his optimism, serving as a peacemaker within the family.

The family's cohesion is shattered when Eugene, Mia's 14-year-old brother who suffers from autism and Angelman syndrome, mysteriously returns home alone from his daily walk with their father. Concerned by his erratic behavior and their father's absence, the family embarks on a frantic search, only to be confronted with cryptic clues suggesting foul play. As they grapple with the possibility of their father's suicide, abandonment, or harm, the narrative unfolds into a gripping mystery that keeps readers on edge.

Narrated through short chapters interwoven with Mia's introspective footnotes, the story delves into complex themes such as linguistics, mental health, racism, and family dynamics. Despite its length, the narrative remains engaging, offering insights into the struggles of caring for a teenager with rare conditions. The characters, flawed yet deeply caring, resonate with authenticity, evoking empathy from readers.

The book's poignant portrayal of familial sacrifice and the challenges faced by Eugene in expressing himself resonates with emotional depth. The powerful ending leaves a lasting impact, prompting reflection on the complexities of love, sacrifice, and resilience within families. In conclusion, it's a compelling read that leaves a profound impression, making it one of the standout books of the year. Highly recommended for those seeking a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant narrative.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the Random House Publishing Group/Hogarth for sharing this brilliant book's digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.

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Angie Kim’s second novel, Happiness Falls, is much like her first (Miracle Creek)­ — the simplicity of a mystery/thriller genre label does not evoke fully what this book is about. Of course, for those who love the mystery, you’ve got it. You want more complex family dynamics? That’s here, too. What about themes of class, race, and cognitive disabilities or neurodiversity? It’s all right there in Happiness Falls — in addition to the scientific, philosophic, and musical ponderings of the protagonist, Mia Parkson.

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I went in not knowing much about the book and was hooked right away. The portrayal of the family dynamic was great and really let you connect with the characters. I will definitely be looking into Kims previous books.

Thank you Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the advanced copy.

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I have such mixed feelings about Happiness Falls: On the one hand, it was a brilliant mystery and a dynamic, swift family drama. Equally, its attention to matters of ability and disability struck a profound note for this reader. On the other, the flaws of its characters annoyed the hell out of me. Still, hats off to Kim who wove the story and its characters so seamlessly together that I compulsively — and sometimes against my will — read to the very end.

The noel revolves around a mixed race, Asian and White American family: parents (Hannah and Adam), two young adult children (Mia and John), and an adolescent son (Eugene) who has a mental disability and is non-speaking. One day Adam and Eugene go missing. Eugene returns, injured and unable to articulate what has happened to his father. As the police, authorities, and the family attempt to unravel Adam’s last know whereabouts and uncover the mystery of his disappearance — and hopefully, his safe recovery — family secrets, fears, and flaws come to the surface.

A distinctive appeal of the novel is how Kim embeds a discussion of ability/disability rights and the treatment of persons with disabilities into this tale. What assumptions do normatively abled persons make about those who express themselves differently, about those who are deemed “disabled”, and about the parents and their responsibilities to society and their loved ones with disabilities? It is this element of the novel which makes it so resoundingly relevant and contemporary to our moment.

What then did I find so irritating about the novel? Mia. I found Mia irritating. I found myself annoyed with her youth and rigidity. I have little patience for inflexibility in fictional characters (ironic and hypocritical, I know, but there I am). Still, I could understand her position, and Kim speaks through Mia, as the primary narrator of the novel, with a depth of skill I can only envy as a writer.

The resultant dissonance makes Happiness Falls an engrossing read, one which I could not tear myself from until I reached its end.

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I loved this book! Kim expertly weaves a gripping mystery with profound explorations of family dynamics, communication, and the pursuit of happiness. Through the disappearance of Mia's father and the struggles of her autistic brother Eugene, Kim delves into themes of love, loss, and the complexities of human connection. Mia's narration provides a unique and insightful perspective, drawing readers into the family's turmoil and resilience. With its masterful storytelling and thought-provoking themes, Happiness Falls is a must-read for anyone seeking a riveting mystery intertwined with profound emotional depth. 5 stars! Thanks to net galley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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How to write a review for Happiness Falls….this was a well written and important book. Important because it brought life to kids with communicative disorders like Eugene, something in our society we don’t usually see or read about. I liked the family as a whole. I was intrigued enough to find out what happened to keep going to the end. But boy was that hard to do especially at the beginning. Mia is such a selfish egotistical zennial that I almost gave up after the first chapter. I’m an intelligent person but reading about their dad’s happiness experiments, and Mia’s comparing stuff to sonic discords in music plus several other little things like that was so dry and boring and it made me feel dumb. Plus the ending I wasn’t crazy about. And the footnotes were hard to read in kindle format.

Overall I did not enjoy this novel. If I was rating on enjoyment I’d give it 2 stars. But I’ll give it 3 on its subject matter and being well written.

**Thanks to the author and publisher fir the e-arc I received via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.** Due to my love of the author’s last book Miracle Creek I also bought a hardcover from Book if the Month.

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Thank you to Net Galley, the author, and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

It's hard to know where to even begin with this one. It's a winding, complex mystery novel that keeps you compulsively reading until the very end. And while some readers might not love where it ultimately lands, I respect the unconventional approach.

As the story opens, we discover that the patriarch of the Parson family has gone missing. Even stranger, his non-speaking son, Eugene - who is presumably the last person to have seen him - returns home covered in blood. His daughter, Mia, begins piecing together clues as to his whereabouts, uncovering a lot of troubling information in the process. She starts to question how much she actually knows about her dad; was he leading a double life? Was the research he was independently conducting on happiness a factor in his disappearance?

My recommendation: come for the mystery, stay for the commentary. Kim has full faith in her readers to keep up with this journey. She covers a lot of ground, making a number of deliberate choices along the way that distinguish this book from some of its contemporaries. While I (like many other readers) would have liked some loose ends to be explicitly tied up, I also appreciate the fact that life is often ambiguous.

It's easy to glean that a lot of intention and research went into writing this particular story. Having met individuals like Eugene (and seen some of these amazing tactics at work), I appreciated the emphasis Kim placed on motor vs. cognitive deficiencies; how adamantly she emphasized the harm that comes with presumption.

Highly recommend if you're the type of person more interested in exploring the question than immediately arriving at a definitive answer.

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An eye opening book about family dynamics and how we treat differently abled people. I learned SO much and it made me tilt my head and out loud say “huh” (in a good way) several times. I love a book that challenges my thinking and teaches me. The mystery element and wondering what has happened to their missing family member added suspense and curiosity. This book was an excellent read!

Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group, Random House Hogarth allowing me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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