This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story

MEMOIR, forthcoming Oct. 1, 2019

As a farm girl in eastern Oregon, feeding bottles to bummer lambs and babysitting her little sister, Jackie Shannon Hollis expected to become a mother someday. After a series of failed relationships, she met Bill, the man she wanted to spend her life with. But he was a man who never wanted children. Saying I do meant saying I don’t to a rite of passage her body had prepared her for since puberty.

Told in short nonlinear chapters, This Particular Happiness explores the fracturing of female identity as Shannon Hollis questions her childless decision, navigates her roles as daughter and wife and sister and friend, and ultimately learns to listen to her own heart. This debut memoir is about what we keep and what we abandon to make space in our lives for love.


“We all know that having a child changes everything, but so, too, does not having one, and in Hollis’s brave, moving memoir, she explores the bliss, the yearning, the making peace with a life she and her partner chose (and didn’t choose), and how happiness takes on shapes we can never imagine. The perfect book for anyone contemplating motherhood—or not!”

—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You


“This Particular Happiness examines the particularly female journey—how and where do we make room for love? And whether lover, wife, mother, or daughter, how can we be our most authentic selves? Jackie Shannon Hollis explores this rich terrain with clarity and courage, in spare and lovely prose evocative of the high plains landscape and fertile farmland she hails from.”

—Jennie Shortridge, author of Love Water Memory


“This Particular Happiness is the eloquent unfolding of Jackie Shannon Hollis’s lifelong understanding of and relationship to her own body: what it could do for her, how it could be used against her, and, ultimately, how she claimed it as her own. Her prose is both achingly beautiful and precise, underscoring the journey of discovering integrity to oneself, and the promise of true love.”

—Liz Prato, author of Volcanoes, Palm Trees, and Privilege: Essays on Hawaii


“This book drew me in from the very first scene and gave me what I want in a memoir: the opportunity to see inside a very particular experience as well as to ponder big questions. What blend of family, culture, and personality inform our expectations? What do we seek from love and intimacy? How do we build defenses against trauma? How do we change? Hollis writes with a clarity and rhythm that makes the reading easy going even as she covers difficult and complex territory. The artful interweaving of storylines and time periods reveals a hard-won wisdom.  Any person who has wondered about the path not taken—especially as it relates to child-rearing—will find themselves riveted.”

—Zoe Zolbrod, author of The Telling


“In This Particular Happiness, Jackie mines the depths of who she is and how she wants to be in this complicated world. She doesn’t settle for the obvious path, and even though there’s some disappointment and heartbreak, she learns how to love and be loved in just the way she wants. This book is a celebration of living life using your own damn map.”

—Yuvi Zalkow, author of A Brilliant Novel in the Works


“In This Particular Happiness, Jackie Shannon Hollis takes on herself and her marriage and the immense, complex impulse to have a child. It’s like taking on a mountain, that impulse, and rarely examined the way she does it, holding up the mirror to her marriage with incredible detail and with an intent to truly understand her husband without judgment, and herself with him.”

—Kathlene Postma, Professor of Creative Writing, Pacific University

About the Book

This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story
Jackie Shannon Hollis
Forest Avenue Press
Trade paperback
Publication Date: Oct. 1, 2019
Trade Paper: 6 x 9
Cover Price: $16.95
ISBN:  9781942436393
Ebook forthcoming
294 pages

About the Author

Jackie Shannon Hollis, a lifelong Oregonian, resides with her husband in a home her friends call the tree house. Her education and work as a counselor pushed her to hold up the mirror to her own self. In addition to thinking she would be a mother, she once dreamed of being a June Taylor dancer or a racecar driver. Her short stories and essays have been published in The Sun, Slice, Inkwell, High Desert Journal, VoiceCatcher, Rosebud, and other publications.


%d bloggers like this: