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Celadon Books

Like Happiness: A Novel by Ursula Villarreal-Moura (Hardcover)

Like Happiness: A Novel by Ursula Villarreal-Moura (Hardcover)

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Fiction - Literary - Feminist - LGBTQ+ - Lesbian

Published: 3/26/2024

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.


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.

"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 Happinessis elegant, complex, and altogether familiar."

"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

"Like Happinessis 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 ofLeave the World Behindand finalist for the National Book Award

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