NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • When a father goes missing, his family’s desperate search leads them to question everything they know about him and one another in this thrilling page-turner, a deeply moving portrait of a family in crisis from the award-winning author of Miracle Creek.
Belletrist Book Club Pick • Finalist for the New American Voices Award • “This is a story with so many twists and turns I was riveted through the last page.”—Jodi Picoult
One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Season: The New York Times • Los Angeles Times • Oprah Quarterly • Time • St. Louis Post Dispatch • Lit Hub • Publishers Weekly • CrimeReads • ABC News • USA Today
“A brilliant, satisfying, compassionate mystery that is as much about language and storytelling as it is about a missing father. I loved this book.”—Gabrielle Zevin, author of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
“I fell in love with the fascinating, brilliant family at the center of this riveting book.”—Ann Napolitano, author of Hello Beautiful
“We didn’t call the police right away.” Those are the electric first words of this extraordinary novel about a biracial Korean American family in Virginia whose lives are upended when their beloved father and husband goes missing.
Mia, the irreverent, hyperanalytical twenty-year-old daughter, has an explanation for everything—which is why she isn’t initially concerned when her father and younger brother Eugene don’t return from a walk in a nearby park. They must have lost their phone. Or stopped for an errand somewhere. But by the time Mia’s brother runs through the front door bloody and alone, it becomes clear that the father in this tight-knit family is missing and the only witness is Eugene, who has the rare genetic condition Angelman syndrome and cannot speak.
What follows is both a ticking-clock investigation into the whereabouts of a father and an emotionally rich portrait of a family whose most personal secrets just may be at the heart of his disappearance. Full of shocking twists and fascinating questions of love, language, and human connection, Happiness Falls is a mystery, a family drama, and a novel of profound philosophical inquiry. With all the powerful storytelling she brought to her award-winning debut, Miracle Creek, Angie Kim turns the missing-person story into something wholly original, creating an indelible tale of a family who must go to remarkable lengths to truly understand one another.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Melding mystery and philosophy, Happiness Falls digs into life’s biggest questions. The novel follows Korean American college student Mia and her twin brother, John, who return home during the COVID lockdown to hunker down with their parents and their nonverbal younger brother, Eugene. When Eugene returns from a walk with his father alone and bloodied, the family is thrust into a terrible mystery—and we get to join them. Along the way, narrator Mia gets sidetracked into profound musings on race, family, psychology, and the nature of happiness. It might sound heavy, but author Angie Kim seamlessly weaves weighty themes into a speedy pageturner of a story.
Kim's bittersweet second novel (following Miracle Creek) intertwines an intimate family drama, a missing-persons mystery, and a philosophical rumination on happiness. Korean American college student Mia Parkson and her twin brother, John, are spending the Covid-19 lockdown at their parents' house in suburban Virginia. One morning, their autistic 14-year-old brother, Eugene, races home from a hike with their father, his clothing spattered with blood. Their father is nowhere to be found, and Eugene—who is nonverbal—isn't able to say what happened. While Mia and her family help authorities sift a bewildering array of clues, Mia studies analytical notes her father left behind, which posit that the experience of happiness is relative to an expected outcome—leading her to wonder whether her father is subjecting them all to an elaborate social experiment. Meanwhile, the Parksons investigate therapies Eugene has been undergoing that suggest they have underestimated his intelligence and ability to communicate—a revelation that dovetails with Mia's own complex thoughts on how factors including race, language, and emotion all impact people's interpretation of information and ability to relate to one another. Readers will be fascinated with how Kim bends the structure of a whodunit to serve a broader exploration of the dynamics of human relations and moved by her skill at wresting joy from tragedy.
I bought this book to read at the pool, thinking it was going to be just another mystery read. This book is so much more - I couldn’t put it down, reading it in about 4 sittings. I love the tangents Mia goes on so we can better understand her and her family’s history. I love the little snippets of information we gather as we read. I love that it taught me something and challenged preconceptions. I gasped, out loud!, at several parts in the book. So good!! I will be grabbing another book of Angie Kim’s at the library for sure.
Not a book I want to rush through. So much to learn and feel and absorb.