So Happy Together
by Deborah K. Shepherd
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 20 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 13 Oct 2021
As her stultifying marriage is unravelling, and in the midst of mourning the loss of her creative self, Caro Tanner has a nightmare about Peter, an old love whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years. She takes this as a sign he still needs her. With her three children safely off to summer camp, Caro embarks on a pre-Facebook, pre–cell phone road trip to recapture who she once was and what she thinks she once had. Set in the sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll ’60s in Tucson, Arizona—when Caro and Peter were kooky, colorful, and inseparable drama students—and in the suburban ’80s, when Caro’s creative spark has been quenched to serve the needs of her husband and children, So Happy Together explores the conundrum of love and sexual attraction, creativity and family responsibilities, and what happens when they are out of sync. It is a story of missed opportunities, the tantalizing possibility of second chances, and what we leave behind, carry forward, and settle for when we choose. It sits in that raw, messy, confounding, beautiful place where love resides.
Trigger warning: The story is set in the '60s, so drugs (not the hard stuff) and sex are in the book. There is also one chapter in which one of the main characters reveals (in detail) to the protagonist that he was sexually assaulted as a child.
A Note From the Publisher
"Shepherd’s novel contains entertaining details of the ’60s and ’80s, deftly capturing the atmosphere of both time periods....the tale explores many weighty topics relating to life’s transitions with insight and grace. From sexual orientation to personal ambition, grief, friendship, and self-esteem, the author dives deep."
“So Happy Together exposes disturbance beneath the surface of innocence and desire amid a group of college students during the tumultuous ‘60s. Twenty years later and with grit, humor, and compassion, a spirited Caro unpacks a past shadowed by secrets, unrequited passion, and the consequences of settling. This is a page-turning road trip story of a human heart coming to terms with brokenness and regret, not just once, but finally, and where the map gets drawn as we go.”
―Jodi Paloni, author of They Could Live with Themselves
“Spoiler alert: no one is really happy together in So Happy Together. That’s because the road trip we join herein is about busting through such fantasies to get to self-actualization. And although perfect happiness may be elusive, along the way we do get candid, carnal exploration, as our exuberant narrator takes her “journey to parts unknown”—geographic and metaphoric. Bouncing back and forth between love beads and yuppie ‘80s trappings, loveless sex and sexless love, Shepherd’s novel is like sharing late-night gossip with a good friend.”
―Arielle Greenberg, author of I Live in the Country & Other Dirty Poems
“An engaging, compulsively readable debut about a woman’s journey from what she fantasizes will make her happy to what actually makes her happy. Shepherd weaves skillfully between past and present to show the persistent power of an illusion—and the joy in realizing, as her protagonist does, that what one wants and what one has are the same.”
—Barbara Linn Probst, author of award-winning Queen of the Owls
“Many of us waste years fantasizing about a lost love, but the feisty heroine in So Happy Together takes to the road to track hers down. This compelling novel is about how a smart and lusty drama student in the tumultuous ‘60s discovers twenty years later that she’s trapped in a failing marriage. Her journey gives her the uninterrupted time she needs to discover where she has lost her way. Shepherd’s engaging characters make mistakes, hurt and lash out, yet ultimately clean up the mess with kindness, and humor. They end up discovering love where they least expect it, and the search for understanding is what ultimately sets them free.”
―Elizabeth Garber, author of Implosion: A Memoir of an Architect’s Daughter
“Shepherd takes us on a literal ride into the not-so-distant past, remembering how naïve we were before we understood there are things you just can’t change―even if you’re destined, even if you’re soulmates, even if you’re willing to risk everything . . . The reader will ache at the forced (and quite salty) sass of the young narrator, desperate to show it doesn’t hurt, and highly enjoy the ironic wit of the mature voice who knows better and goes for it all the same. A story for anyone who can relate to how we cling to a fantasy of the past to avoid committing to the present.”
―Rita Dragonette, author of The Fourteenth of September
“Shepherd’s novel carries us on a journey many of us think of taking when we reach mid-life, when family responsibilities threaten to drown our creative selves. Who were we back in our vibrant youth? Can we recapture some part of that? I was captivated as the protagonist, Caro, sets off to find both her lost love and her identity as a youthful playwright and finds self-knowledge and joy in the process.”
—Elayne Klasson, award-winning author of Love is a Rebellious Bird
Average rating from 2 members
The nostalgia-inducing title and cover of this novel beckon readers who came of age in the heady 60’s and 70’s and the story features several key issues of those times. What truly draws the reader in, though, are the emotional journeys of the two main character through those tumultuous decades and into the landscape of the 80’s. The author presents authentic characters in Caro and Peter, and the reader can almost believe that their story, their stories, could have happened that way. I requested a free ARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review of the book.