praise for all the winters after
Alaska Dispatch News - Nancy Lord
It's not often that writers from outside Alaska make the effort to understand and convey the hold our state has on those who live here. Halverson has delivered a recognizable version of ourselves within her larger, very satisfying story about strength of character and the power of love.
Anchorage Press- David Fox
Alternately haunting and enchanting, All The Winters After — a taut and thrilling love mystery — tells the powerful story of individuals trapped by the trauma of their past and ultimately liberated by the courage of their convictions. Seré Prince Halverson's novel is about that long journey from solitude and isolation to redemption.
New York Journal of Books
A winner read that should appeal to a variety of literary and genre tastes...All novelists strive for what all readers want: that moment when you open a book and it grabs you by the throat and pulls you in to another place and time, another person's reality. Thus opens All the Winters After, and it keeps you pinioned inside the covers until it's over and you emerge blinking and shaking your head.
A remote Alaskan village holds sorrow and hope for three residents confronting painful memories and preparing for a brighter future...the majestic natural wonders of Alaska are a sensory delight throughout.
RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!)
"All the Winters After is a poignant tale of grief, love and self-discovery. The characters are unforgettable, the scenery is breathtaking and the plot is stirring. Halverson weaves loss and love together in a unique way, taking readers on an unforgettable journey from the first word to the last. This novel stays with readers long after the book is finished."
"An absolute delight from start to finish… Written with a deep appreciation for both the beauty and danger of the last frontier, this novel will resonate with readers looking for more than just another adventure story."
"[An] absorbing second novel… Their love story is engaging, and the spectacular setting and delightful supporting cast infuse the plot with vitality. A surprise ending is a perfect capper."
"With sweet, heartfelt characters and a richly described setting, Halverson blends mystery and suspense into a love story of many layers, not the least of which is a declaration of love to the Alaskan wilderness and its people."
Julie Kibler, bestselling author of Calling Me Home
"All the Winters After is a beauty of a story that reaffirms what love is and what love does. You’ll want to race through it to uncover the mysteries, while simultaneously slowing to savor this enchanting tale in hopes it will not end."
Amy Franklin-Willis, author of The Lost Saints of Tennessee
"Seré Prince Halverson delivers another riveting story about the bonds of family. All the Winters After is a beautiful and compelling tale set in the wilds of Alaska. A young woman broken by love sets a collision course with a family torn apart by grief and guilt. The secrets are deep. The winter is long. And the characters are unforgettable. I loved this book."
Sarah McCoy, New York Times and bestselling author of The Mapmaker's Children
"A book that makes you hug the pages and believe in love’s transformative power. Against the rugged enchantment of Alaska, Halverson mesmerizes us with the unforgettable story of Kachemak Winkel and generations of hidden secrets. This isn’t just a novel; it’s a journey to territories of land and heart."
Jillian Medoff, bestselling author of I Couldn't Love You More
"Set in the wilds of Alaska, All the Winters After is a vivid exploration of landscape and community. Sensual, insightful and deeply affecting, Seré Prince Halverson’s new novel illustrates how reckoning with the past is sometimes the only way to move forward. I read this book quickly, compulsively, and thought about it long after I turned the last page."
Melanie Thorne, author of Hand Me Down
"This novel is like the Alaskan landscape it so vividly depicts: beautiful yet mysterious, layered and unforgettable, revealing its secrets at the exact right moments. Perfectly paced, deeply felt, and gorgeously written, All the Winters After will burn bright in your memory like the midnight sun."
praise for The Underside of Joy
Oprah.Com 11 Books to Devour on Your Next Long Flight
Recommended by Allison Winn Scotch, NYT Bestselling author of The Song Remains the Same and Time of My Life
"Fortunately, I was traveling for work by myself, so the children didn't go neglected. It turns out you don't need little TVs on the seat in front of you or internet access 35,000 feet in the air when you have a great, great book."
Joshilyn Jackson NYT Bestselling author of A Grown-up Kind of Pretty and Backseat Saints
"A thoroughly beautiful story that stretches and defines the bonds of love and family obligation in moving and unexpected ways. Seré Prince Halverson is a natural-born storyteller with a sure and gorgeous voice. Don't miss this one."
Jennifer Weiner, NYT Bestselling author of The Next Best Thing and In Her Shoes
"A stepmother story that isn't what you think. Take one happily married wife, and her two stepchildren, who've been essentially abandoned by their biological mother. Take her husband away from her. Then start peeling the layers, learning that things weren't ever as simple as they seemed; that there are no monsters and no saints, just lots of flawed people and secrets...Highly recommended."
Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Close Your Eyes and How to be Lost
"I couldn't stop reading this wise, lyrical novel. Filled with luscious descriptions of wine country and meditations on motherhood and love, this is a novel to savor and talk about."
Washington Independent Review of Books
Review by Ginsy Hawkins
"The reader may cry, get a little angry and wish to be right smack dab in the middle of Elbow, California so that he or she can hug the children, pat a few characters on the back and have a good long look at a reclusive painter's artwork. The story is vibrant with clear prose and the reader feels close enough to head west to the Capozzis' general store so they can fill handmade baskets with sumptuous food and find a place to picnic." ... more
Dallas Morning News
Review by Joy Tipping
"Halverson’s accomplished, easily flowing prose completely belies the book’s debut status...The legal and emotional issues surrounding the rights of stepparents vs. parents get a thorough, but hardly clinical, airing here, with no easy heroes or villains, despite how clear-cut things seem initially." ... more
Library Journal (Starred Review)
Review by Beth E. Anderson
"Halverson’s gloriously down-to-earth novel is so pitch perfect that as readers reluctantly reach the last page, wanting more, they will have to take it on faith that this really is her first fiction." ... more
Bookpage (Fiction Top Pick)
Review by Carla Jean Whitley
"...As she mines the family secrets her characters hold close and how those affect their relationships with one another, Halverson proves she’s a wordsmith and a storyteller to keep an eye on." ... more
Associated Press, January 11, 2012
Review by M.L. Johnson
"The Underside of Joy" covers the transforming experiences of most of our lives — marriage, parenthood and death — with maturity, understanding and grace. Anyone who has known love, loss, regret and forgiveness can identify with Ella and her transformation, and with subplots about sibling rivalry, the local food movement and the persecution of Italian immigrants during World War II, the book offers a lot to think about. I suspect it will be a book club favorite" ... more
A Design So Vast by Lindsey Mead
Sere is unflinching in her ability to draw complicated, deeply human people. Everybody stumbles, she asserts, and the best we can do is turn and face our flaws...The Underside of Joy refuses to resolve into easy answers, into good and bad..The novel’s message echoes: we cannot escape where we came from, but those shadows provide immeasurable depth to the joy of our lives ... more
"A poignant debut about mothers, secrets and sacrifices...Halverson avoids sentimentality, aiming for higher ground in this lucid and graceful examination of the dangers and blessings of familial bonds."
People Style Watch
"[An] exquisite debut… moving and hopeful"
"Halverson paints a lovely picture of smalltown life and intimate family drama…Nuanced characters and lack of cliché make for a winning debut."
"Halverson’s debut novel marks her as a strong new voice in women’s fiction…this would make an excellent book-club choice."
Review by Valerie Ryan
"Seré Prince Halverson's debut novel is a faultless exploration of sadness and shame, anger and forgiveness; a story well told about people we would like to know."
Marisa de los Santos, NYT bestselling author of Love Walked In and Falling Together
"The writing in The Underside of Joy is as purely beautiful as the story is emotionally complex. When Ella Beene is wrenched from a state of unexamined happiness into confusion and grief, she finds that her only hope of emerging whole is to face searing and long-buried truths. Ella embarks on a difficult journey, both morally and materially, one that requires her to risk losing everything she most loves. I cheered (sometimes through tears) her every step."
Caroline Leavitt, NYT bestselling author of Pictures of You and Girls In Trouble
"Searingly smart and exquisitely written, Halverson’s knockout debut limns family, marriage and a custody battle in a way that gets under your skin and leaves you changed. To say I loved this book would be an understatement."
Publisher's Marketplace, May 19, 2011
Review by Sarah Weinman
"The most genuine happiness cannot be so pure, so deep, or so blind," announces Ella Beene near the beginning of Sere Prince Halverson’s emotionally rich debut novel … . For Ella, thirty-five and "not a physical beauty – not ugly, but nothing near what I’d look like if I’d had a say in the matter" – this is a hard-won conclusion, arrived at after a painful childhood and first marriage. But she’s spent the past three years in a blissful state, married to grocery store owner Joe Capozzi, stepmother to his two young children Annie and Zach, and "the best thing that’s happened to the family", according to the Capozzi family and the entire small town of Elbow, in Northern California.
Then Joe dies in an accidental drowning, and Annie and Zach’s mother Paige – who abandoned the family just four months after Zach’s birth – reappears at the funeral wanting full custody of the children. During the ensuing battle, as well as the discovery of a multitude of secrets about Joe and his family, Ella realizes how long she’s let others define her and what she must do to protect herself and the children she’s thought of as her own.
In broad but tenderly-applied brushstrokes, Halverson paints a picture of two different women acting with the best of intentions and the worst of consequences, revealing the ramifications of post-partum depression (in Paige’s case) and being punished for speaking one’s mind and telling the truth (in Ella’s case.) Halverson also weaves complex subplots with deceptive ease, from the lingering aftermath of Italian-American internment camps during World War II to Joe’s older brother David making his own place at the family business table.
"We all break the surface into this life already howling the cries of our ancestors, bearing their DNA, their eye colors and their scars, their glory and their shame." So much time is spent seeking and wishing for happiness, understandably so. But The Underside of Joy demonstrates the simplistic nature of this pursuit, which too often has more to do with fear and shallow living than the truth. In Ella Beene, Halverson fashions a heroine one roots for in times of happiness and aches for at her lowest points, but the strength of this novel is in its empathy for all of its characters – and for two women who want what’s best for the children they both love with equal claim on motherhood.
Sarah Weinman is News Editor for Publishers Marketplace.
Dutton, 307 pp., $25.95, Release date: January 17, 2012.