The Far End of Happy By Kathryn Craft

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Published by Sourcebooks Landmark
Release day is May 5, 2015

About the Book

The Far End of Happy is a powerful new novel based on author Kathryn Craft’s personal experience with a stand-off involving her husband. Here Craft delivers “real, raw emotion” (Library Journal) exploring a marriage unraveled by mental illness; and one man’s spiral towards a violent conclusion that tests the courage, love, and hope of the three women he leaves behind.
“Framing the novel within a 12-hour period keeps the pages turning (Library Jounral).” Narrating from the alternating perspectives of three women, whose lives will be forever altered by Jeff Farnham, gives an intimate look at the steps a woman will take to get the help her husband so urgently needs while desperately trying to keep her children safe.
When the emotionally troubled Jeff engages police in a deadly stand-off, his wife, mother-in-law, and mother struggle to understand why the man they love has turned his back on the life they have given him, the one they all believe is still worth living.
4.5 stars
It goes without saying that if you are sensitive to the topic of suicide this might not be the book for you.  It's based on true events from the author's past so the emotions are very real. It is a story that brings to the surface the painful choices that have to be made when dealing with someone we love who is battling mental illness,  depression and alcoholism. This is not an easy story to read and it is very bleak but also sends a powerful message. The message I gained is that love is sometimes not enough to heal all wounds, especially when dealing with a person battling addictions. Watching someone you love slowly self destruct and feeling powerless to stop it is painful and sometimes you have to know when it's time to walk away and save yourself.
How do you decide between the well being of your husband or the safety of your children? That is the decision Ronnie had to face in this story and I can't imagine being in the same position. By leaving her husband she is risking him being pushed to brink of suicide. But, because of his delicate state of mind and his battle with depression and alcoholism she had to consider the well being of her boys. He was dangerous so she decided that leaving was her only option... and the result was a standoff between him and the police with the women on stand-by waiting and hoping and trying to figure out how Jeff got to this delicate state. There was this need to find blame... my fault, your fault, his fault... but blame is pointless and a waste of energy when addictions take hold of someone and won't let go.
If you're looking for an action filled stand off this is not the book for you... :) This is more about the emotional impact of the events taking place and there is a lot of "remembering" and "reminiscing" of the past. It was so sad seeing this family unit torn apart. They had built such a happy life together. Really is eye opening to contemplate how quickly that can change. But that is the power that addictions hold over you... they start out slow but eventually spread like an infection until things are out of control.
To the outside world Jeff was just a man gone crazy... but to Ronnie and the boys he was just a husband and father. Listening to them remember all the good moments they had together added a whole new level of sadness.   It was heartbreaking... 
I have several friends who have lost people they love to suicide... and, I read this with a heavy heart. Brought some painful emotions up to the surface.  This is the kind of story that makes you appreciate what you have and see the world a little differently than you did before.  

A very powerful story that is compelling yet heartbreaking but very beautifully written. 
This would be an ideal choice for group reads and discussions.  There is a helpful Q&A at the end of the book that the readers can use as a guide.
ARC was provided by the publisher
About Kathryn Craft 
Kathryn Craft, a former dance critic who wrote for The Morning Call daily newspaper in Allentown, Pennsylvania, for nineteen years. Craft wrote exclusively nonfiction until she was plunged in the kind of real-life drama that demands attention. In 1997, after fifteen years of marriage, her husband committed suicide in a police standoff, leaving her and their two young sons.
The Far End of Happy was born from Craft’s need to make sense of what her husband had done. Kathryn has been a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene for more than a decade and is also the author of The Art of Falling. She lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

  Ronnie already wanted to rewrite this story. To edit the cop’s words. To distance herself, change “husband” to “the man.” The man now staggering around the property with a gun; the man who may already have taken a shot; the man whose angst was seeping into her own nerves. Her husband—the gentle soul she’d married—would never have acted like the man she’d engaged with earlier today.

“Call him Jeff, please,” she said quietly.

“I’m going to need you to recount all that transpired this morning with your—” He caught himself. “With Jeff. Leave nothing out. You never know what will be important.”

The recitation she gave was devoid of animation. She felt empty and prickly, like an October cornfield in need of nutrients and a long, restorative winter. An evacuation from her home, beneath the cover of a helicopter dispatched from the state capitol, to protect her from her own husband? Ronnie felt as if her family had suddenly been thrust into an unwanted audition for a high-stakes reality show. Every few moments, as she delivered facts, she looked over at her mother, who was speaking quietly to Janet. She wondered if Beverly’s version differed. If her mother, or Jeff’s, blamed her. Because to them, and the rest of the world, it must look as if Jeff had been knocked off balance because Ronnie had decided to leave him.

It even looked that way to her.

The officer told Ronnie their primary goal was to locate Jeff, since he was armed and dangerous.

“Please don’t say that in front of his mother,” she said. “Or the boys. Jeff isn’t a dangerous person. He’s sweet. Everyone would tell you how nice he is. Very laid back.” Too laid back. He never cared enough. “It’s just that we’re getting a divorce, and today was the day he promised to move out. He’s...” Drunk off his ass. “Agitated.”

Ronnie rubbed her arms—the room suddenly chilled her. She hadn’t thought to grab a jacket. The room’s narrow, high-set windows, made of glass bricks, were meant to obscure natural light. This was a room designed to allow sparkles from a mirror ball, gropes in the shadows.

And so what? She was cold. She felt selfish thinking about it, with Jeff frozen all the way to the center of his soul.

“Could you give me a physical description of your husband so we can identify him by sight?”

All that she and Jeff had meant to each other, all the intricacies of their marriage, boiled down to the same physical attributes that had first attracted her to him. “Five foot ten. Dark brown hair, thick, trimmed over ears some might call large.” Soft ears that lay flat against his head beneath her kisses. “Blue eyes.” Eyes that used to pierce her through with their naked honesty. “Broad hands.” Strong hands that always needed a project, now wrapped around a gun.

Advance Praise for The Far End of Happy
“A complex and gripping story of broken hearts, lives, and marriages that will tear you apart from beginning to end.” —Steena Holmes, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Memory Child and Finding Emma

“Kathryn Craft keeps the tension edge-of-your-seat suspenseful in The Far End of Happy… unflinchingly honest and hard-hitting.” —Kate Moretti, author of the New York Times bestselling Thought I Knew You, and Binds That Tie

“Compellingly written, the tension builds throughout the book and the reader comes out the other side with more insight, and more compassion, for those who may find themselves on the far end of happy.” —Catherine McKenzie, bestselling author of Hidden

“Kathryn Craft is a masterful storyteller who weaves a heartbreaking story packed with tension and brimming with humanity.” —Lori Nelson Spielman, author of The Life List

“An incredibly honest and courageous exploration of a marriage torn apart by neglect and threats of suicide. Craft’s ability to tell a tale as beautiful as it is haunting left me in awe. Not one to miss!” —Mary Kubica, author of The Good Girl

“Captivated from page one…Craft expertly weaves a gripping tale that hits the reader hard and keeps moving briskly to its heartbreaking but hopeful conclusion.” —Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden

“The Far End of Happy gives us a newsworthy tragedy from the inside out. In sharply intimate language, Kathryn Craft deftly weaves her story out of many stories, some buried in the past, some fresh as a new wound, stories of true love, of families carefully built and then painfully unraveled, of a good man’s life ravaged by alcoholism, and of the guilt, anger, hope, and tremendous strength of the women and children who love him.” --Marisa de los Santos, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Love Walked In, Belong To Me, and Falling Together

“Kathryn Craft pulls off a miracle of story telling, weaving together the initial magic spell of a couple entwined, the sad shredding of their love and family, fueled by alcohol, and the truth of the past binding them—all revealed throughout twelve hours of a tragic suicide standoff.” --Randy Susan Meyers, bestselling author of Accidents of Marriage 

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