4/5 FSG After only one year and nine months of marriage, Claire Kessler’s husband, Jay, kills himself. He leaps off a balcony on February 14, leaving Claire with not just a grim Valentine but two impossible questions: why did he do it? And why couldn’t she stop him?
Shonk’s absorbing debut novel opens in the aftermath of the tragedy, and captures the surreal routines of dealing with a sudden loss. Camped out in her pregnant sister’s guesthouse, with ‘no task but… to grieve,’ Claire looks back on the early days of her relationship and pieces together how Jay’s life fell apart.
Shonk shows us a relationship that, while full of love, could never have been enough for one of the people in it. It’s a conventional story, but she describes her characters’ emotions with such care that every moment feels essential. Happy Now? is a raw, lucid portrait of a life just after it’s been shattered, and as it begins to take on a new shape. Eryn Loeb