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Happiness Falls by Angie Kim
Literary fiction

Happiness Falls

Repeat author

Angie Kim is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include Miracle Creek.

Early Release

This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait to read it.

by Angie Kim

Quick take

One biracial family grapples with the meaning of happiness and their own lives when their father suddenly goes missing.

Good to know

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  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Cerebral


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Siblings



“We didn't call the police right away.” Those are the 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, hyper analytical 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, race, and human connection, Happiness Falls is a mystery, a family drama, and a novel of profound philosophical inquiry.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Happiness Falls.

Why I love it

To say that Happiness Falls is a riveting mystery with unexpected twists that keep the pages flying would be absolutely true. It would also be a vast undersell of this brilliant, moving book.

In Angie Kim’s second novel, the greatest mysteries lie hidden in the long-held and fervently believed stories a family tells itself about who they are. Kim offers the reader not only an intricate puzzle about a missing father but a deeply layered study of the innate biases that cloud our ability to see situations clearly. It questions how well any of us understands each other, or even ourselves, and how profoundly wrong our most cherished beliefs can be.

To unravel the mystery of her father’s disappearance, Mia Parkson, a hyper-analytical college student, must examine not only how well she knew her father but her assumptions about her nonspeaking little brother, Eugene, a fourteen year old diagnosed with autism and Angelman syndrome. She—as well as her twin brother and mother—must face the suffering they have inflicted by their ignorance. It is only in opening their hearts to the possibility of their own unintended cruelties that they can discover peace and begin to unravel the even greater mystery of where happiness might reside.

Given our world today, so fractured with fierce certainties, Happiness Falls is a book that expands the heart and offers more angles of view. It is a beautiful and important work.

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Member ratings (6,840)

  • Brett A.

    Maplewood, NJ

    One of the most unique, stirring stories I’ve read in a long time. Kim’s novel will make you question your basic assumptions about speaking, happiness and family in this incredible book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Sarah P.

    San Leandro, CA

    This book was incredible! Easily one of my top reads if the year. I loved Mia’s narration of her family’s experiences and the book’s exploration of happiness, intelligence, prejudice, and belonging.

  • Lily C.

    Chicago, IL

    I couldn’t stop thinking about this book, even when we were apart. The way in which Kim withheld and gave information was masterful. I normally get frustrated with unanswered questions -but not today.

  • Monica B.

    Springfield, IL

    I cannot recommend this book enough! The mystery of what happened to Mia’s father is perfectly intertwined with discussions/impacts of disabilities. I learned so much and was so invested in the story.

  • Rebecca F.


    While it started slow, I read the second half in two days. A fascinating story of communication and trust and a study in what it means to be happy. I’ll be thinking of this one for a long time after.