'"All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them,' Isak Dinesen once said. Sorrows are all pain otherwise, pain without sense or meaning. But joys, too, it seems to me, need their context. And sometimes their coexistence needs to be borne. The coexistence or possibility of the opposite can be what gives an experience its meaning. At its simplest, that is a story." —Camilla Gibb, This Is Happy
In this profoundly moving memoir, Camilla Gibb, the award-winning, bestselling author of Sweetness in the Belly and The Beauty of Humanity Movement, reveals the intensity of the grief that besieged her as the happiness of a longed for family shattered. Grief that lived in a potent mix with the solace that arose with the creation of another, most unexpected family. A family constituted by a small cast of resilient souls, adults broken in the way many of us are, united in love for a child. Reflecting on tangled moments of past sadness and joy, alienation and belonging, Gibb revisits her stories now in relation to the happy daughter who will inherit them, and she finds there new meaning and beauty.
Raw and unflinching, intelligent and humane, This Is Happy asks the big questions and finds answers in the tender moments of the everyday.
About the author
CAMILLA GIBB was born in London, England, and grew up in Toronto. She is the author of four internationally acclaimed novels--Mouthing the Words, The Petty Details of So-and-so's Life, Sweetness in the Belly and The Beauty of Humanity Movement--as well as the bestselling memoir This Is Happy. Camilla has been the recipient of the Trillium Book Award, the City of Toronto Book Award and the CBC Canadian Literary Award and has been shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the RBC Taylor Prize. She has a Ph.D. from Oxford University, has been writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto, the University of Alberta and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Colombia, and is an adjunct faculty member of the graduate creative writing programs at the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph-Humber. She is currently the June Callwood Professor in Social Justice at Victoria College, University of Toronto.
Shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize
A National Post Best Book of the Year
A Globe and Mail Best Book of 2015
A Quill & Quire Notable Book of 2015
"One of the most exquisite, agonizing and, above all, uplifting books of the year." —The Globe and Mail
"Stunning. . . . An unflinching and moving testimony to how a new kind of family can be built from an old one’s wreckage." —Montreal Gazette
"Anger, honesty, compassion, fear, wit and insight electrify Gibb's deft sentences, singing the importance of belonging, of self-worth and of story, particularly its unique ability to render us knowable to others and to ourselves but, most especially, to our children." —Winnipeg Free Press
"This Is Happy is a raw, exposed nerve sheathed in poetic insights. . . . An honest and unflinching look at the pain of abandonment, and the deep digging and work you must undertake to rebuild your world and find your happiness." —CBC News
"[Gibb is] a gifted storyteller. . . . Her story is touching, human, alive. . . . It is beautifully written, brave and sincere. Enjoy." —The Vancouver Sun
"This Is Happy is a powerful testament to what people can overcome and permission for what people can't." —Toronto Star
"This Is Happy has a rawness and power that's hard to resist. . . . Gibb's themes are important, and she has some powerful insights. . . . There's no doubt this engaging memoir comes from a gifted writer." —NOW (Toronto)
"An array of life experiences both marvellous and painful in quiet language that often belies their extraordinariness. . . . This Is Happy is a tiny green shoot peeking through a crack in heavy concrete, wily and survivalist, but tenuous too." —The Globe and Mail
"Camilla Gibb has written a compelling memoir of new motherhood, altered relationships and a family finding its way to wholeness. How moving this book is, in its quiet resolve and deep compassion." —Anne Michaels, the award-winning author of Fugitive Pieces
"This Is Happy broke me, lifted me up, and filled me. I can't remember the last time I read something so honest, tender, brutal and kind." —Sarah Polley