Like Happiness: A Novel (Hardcover)

Like Happiness: A Novel By Ursula Villarreal-Moura Cover Image
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“With fantastic prose and a compelling story and protagonist, Like Happiness grabbed my attention from page one and never let go. I cannot wait to follow Ursula Villarreal-Moura’s career; I know I will eagerly read anything she writes!”
— Christine Bollow, Loyalty Bookstores, Washington, DC


Named an Indie Next pick, and a Most Anticipated Book by, ELLE, Electric Literature, Them, HipLatina, LGBT Reads, Debutiful, LA Daily News, NPR, and more

A searing debut about the complexities of gender, power, and fame, told through the story of a young woman’s destructive relationship with a legendary writer.

It’s 2015, and Tatum Vega feels that her life is finally falling into place. Living in sunny Chile with her partner, Vera, she spends her days surrounded by art at the museum where she works. More than anything else, she loves this new life for helping her forget the decade she spent in New York City orbiting the brilliant and famous author M. Domínguez.

When a reporter calls from the US asking for an interview, the careful separation Tatum has constructed between her past and present begins to crumble. Domínguez has been accused of assault, and the reporter is looking for corroboration.

As Tatum is forced to reexamine the all-consuming but undefinable relationship that dominated so much of her early adulthood, long-buried questions surface. What did happen between them? And why is she still struggling with the mark the relationship left on her life?

Told in a dual narrative alternating between her present day and a letter from Tatum to Domínguez, recounting and reclaiming the totality of their relationship, Like Happiness explores the nuances of a complicated and imbalanced relationship, catalyzing a reckoning with gender, celebrity, memory, Latinx identity, and power dynamics.

About the Author

Ursula Villarreal-Moura was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She is the author of Math for the Self-Crippling, a flash fiction collection. Like Happiness is her first novel.

Praise For…

Named an Indie Next pick, and a Most Anticipated Book by, ELLE, Electric Literature, Them, HipLatina, LGBT Reads, Debutiful, LA Daily News, NPR, and more

"Thanks to Villarreal-Moura, I found another perfect book to recommend for both Sunday reads and subway commutes - my favorite kind! The retrospective confession of San Antonio-native Tatum about her thorny relationship with a prominent Nuyorican writer intertwines desire, destiny, and a love for art and literature in what feels like a transformative conversation with an old friend. Expertly written with striking intimacy and heartbreaking clarity, Like Happiness accomplishes a profound emotional electrocution that will leave you floating lighter for days."
Xochitl Gonzalez, author of Olga Dies Dreaming

"Like Happiness is a deft and touching coming of age story that resists easy answers to very thorny questions—about sexual consent and power, about fame and persona, about making and loving art."
—Rumaan Alam, bestselling author of Leave the World Behind and finalist for the National Book Award

"Like Happiness is a stunning swirl of a coming of age novel about power, manipulation, and complicity. In Tatum, Ursula Villarreal-Moura has created an eminently relatable character. Readers will connect to her love of books, her complicated relationships, and the different ways she grapples with understanding herself—in relation to class, sexuality, race, and family ties. This is the start of a brilliant career."
—Megan Giddings, author of The Women Could Fly and Lakewood

"An epic unraveling of every love story trope, reclaimed as something sharp, seething, unsettling, and true. Yes, this has page flipping plot momentum, but it's also a whip smart critique of race in America, art making in the age of neoliberal "feminism," and the crushing humor of trying to exist as a quiet person with big wants. I am so glad Villarreal-Moura's writing is here and thriving."
—T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

“Her emotionally astute novel offers a moving perspective on the different kinds of victims abusers leave in their wake. Memorable and incisive, this debut grapples elegantly with the complexity of betrayal.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A moving portrait of the vulnerabilities of young womanhood”

“A quick but consuming read, Like Happiness is elegant, complex, and altogether familiar.”

“There’s not much I love more than a protagonist needing to reckon with their past, especially when it means trying to understand it from an older, healthier perspective, and that’s exactly what Ursula Villareal-Moura’s novel promises to offer.”
Ilana Masad, them

“This compelling read delves into the idealism of youth,
the harsh lesson of learning whom to trust, and the complexities of self-actualization.”

"[A] subtle and satisfying narrative. This leaves readers with much to chew on."
—Publishers Weekly

"Seamlessly alternating between these two timelines, Villarreal-Moura writes with stunning emotional clarity about sexual identity, art and marginalization, and the ways control can masquerade as love."

"If I could literally eat a novel, it would be this one, GOOD SOUP."

"Like Happiness has given us a beautiful work of fiction that dwells in the gray areas between celebrity and fan, victim and victimizer, absolution and blame."

Electric Lit | 65 Queer Books You Need to Read in Summer 2024

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250882837
ISBN-10: 1250882834
Publisher: Celadon Books
Publication Date: March 26th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English