Happiness Falls by Angie Kim

Read Time:4 Minute, 7 Second

In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, a biracial Korean American family in Virginia grapples with the sudden disappearance of their beloved father. Mia, the sharp-witted daughter, initially dismisses their absence as a minor issue, but her brother’s arrival, bloodied and mute, shatters their complacency. The search for their father becomes a race against time, woven with poignant family secrets. Angie Kim’s “Happiness Falls” blends mystery, family drama, and philosophical exploration. With her exceptional storytelling, she crafts a unique narrative that delves into love, language, and human connections, showcasing the lengths a family must go to truly understand each other.

Book review of Happiness Falls

“Happiness Falls” has quickly become a favorite of mine. The narrative revolves around the mysterious disappearance of Adam Parson, unraveling hidden family secrets. This book captivated me with its thrilling mystery and its satisfying conclusion. The writing is exceptional, and the incorporation of footnotes adds depth to the narrative.

Mia, the narrator, offers a unique perspective, blending introspection with emotion. The author adeptly addresses real-world issues, notably the challenges faced by individuals characterized as “non-verbal.” Through the character Eugene, the novel calls for an end to stereotypes and explores innovative communication methods for non-speakers.

While I adored the author’s first book, this one might surpass it. Angie Kim’s ability to condense a complex plot into a compelling, readable story is commendable. Imagine a missing persons investigation intertwined with a family drama, elegantly crafted.

Meet the Parkson family, whose dynamics are far from conventional. In their suburban DC home, stay-at-home dad Adam Parson, a white American, and his Korean-born linguist wife, Hannah Park, raise their three children: 20-year-old twins Mia and John, home from college due to the pandemic, and Eugene, a non-speaking teenager with autism and Angelman syndrome.

When Adam disappears, the family grapples with their lack of awareness and the potential harm they may have unintentionally caused. This novel masterfully portrays their journey in accommodating Eugene’s unique needs, highlighting the importance of understanding without making assumptions. It delves into the nuances of language and its interpretation.

“Happiness Falls” offers a wholly original narrative filled with intrigue and surprising twists. Mia’s character, with her wit and intelligence, is the perfect narrator, and her footnotes are a delightful addition. While the writing style may pose a challenge for some readers, the story’s power shines through.

The author’s personal experiences, particularly related to communication and happiness, are subtly woven into the narrative. Angie Kim’s exploration of individuals with communication difficulties and the progress made in aiding them resonates deeply. It sheds light on society’s tendency to underestimate such individuals, emphasizing their untapped potential.

Additionally, the book prompts readers to assess their own happiness quotient and become more aware of their emotional baseline. It’s a thought-provoking story that engages on multiple levels. While the novel’s various threads occasionally dilute its primary message, it remains a captivating and insightful read.

Intriguingly, the story is not solely a missing persons mystery, but it excels in that aspect. It also delves into autism, treating it as a unique locked-in syndrome. The examination of communication and the happiness quotient adds depth to the narrative, despite occasionally distracting tangents.

One lingering question in the narrator’s mind—why she fell asleep on the lawn—serves as a pivotal turning point. Despite these minor quibbles, “Happiness Falls” is an exceptional book that encourages reflection on happiness while delivering a compelling mystery.

Final verdict

In conclusion, “Happiness Falls” is a remarkable novel that tackles diverse themes and intertwines them into a compelling narrative. It deftly combines a gripping mystery with an exploration of communication and happiness, all while offering a unique reading experience. Angie Kim’s storytelling prowess shines through, making this book a must-read.

Our Score


  • “Happiness Falls” offers a captivating mystery that keeps readers hooked throughout the book. The disappearance of Adam Parson and the unraveling of family secrets make for a compelling storyline.
  • The novel delves into important themes such as communication, autism, and the concept of happiness. It prompts readers to reflect on these topics and gain new perspectives.
  • The inclusion of footnotes within the narrative adds depth and uniqueness to the storytelling, providing insights into the narrator’s musings and enhancing the reading experience.


  • While the complex plot is a strength, it can also be a drawback for some readers. The story weaves multiple threads, occasionally making it challenging to follow the main narrative.
  • The book introduces several tangential storylines that, at times, divert from the central plot. These additional elements may distract from the primary message.
  • Some readers may find the writing style challenging, particularly due to the frequent footnotes and occasional tangents. It may require extra effort to fully engage with the story.
Happiness FallsPublisher ‏ : ‎ Hogarth (August 29, 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593448200
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593448205
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.15 pounds
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches

About Article Author

Rachel Parker

Rachel Parker is an inveterate romantic. An author of romance books and stories for the past 10 years, she combines her writing life with her love of literary criticism, waiting for her prince charming to appear at any moment.
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