This Particular Happiness explores our most intimate conflicts and desires—about relationships, parenthood, and what makes a life meaningful.
Raised in rural Oregon in the 1960s, Jackie Shannon Hollis grew up playing “house” with baby dolls, riding horses, and tending to kittens and lambs on her family’s ranch. Other than her Aunt Lena, all of the women in Jackie’s life were mothers—of two, three, five, eight children. They cooked and baked, cleaned and washed, knitted and sewed, and they taught their daughters to do the same. Above all else, they were mothers. Jackie assumed she’d become a mother too. It’s just what women did.
In her late twenties, after several failed relationships, and a sexual assault that shaped a new understanding of how quickly a life can end, Jackie is intent on creating a life of her choosing. She finds herself in love with a man who does not want children. She marries him, certain she can be happy with a childless life. But, just months into her marriage, she holds her sister’s baby girl and sinks deep into baby love and longing.
In This Particular Happiness Jackie explores the conflict at the heart of her marriage, examining her reasons for wanting a child and her husband’s reasons for not wanting one, as they navigate the volatile terrain of deciding on their future together.
Told in short interwoven chapters, this debut memoir is a journey of love that follows the path from how we are raised to who we become.