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A Sorrow Named Joy

by Sarah Chorn

Joy desires nothing more than her husband's happiness. She spends her days creating the perfect life for him in their idyllic suburban home. Everything is neat, predictable, and in its place.

When Joy finds a picture that hints at a past she cannot remember, the facade cracks. As secrets are revealed, Joy realizes her blissful life is crumbling and to find herself, she must first lose herself.

Perfect, after all, is only an illusion.

SFINCS – Our Reviews

Review by Laura from OWWR Pod

Joy lives to please her husband. She creates the perfect home and life in order to make him happy. But when she comes across an old picture of herself, the “perfect” life she’s constructed starts to show some flaws.

A Sorrow Named Joy is a haunting and gorgeous read. Chorn has a talent for evoking emotion in her writing and supports this with her beautiful prose. I found the feelings of the characters so palpable and relatable which drew me further into the story.

Although a very short novella, A Sorrow Named Joy doesn’t rush readers towards its ending but rather allows its audience to sit in the moment and make discoveries with the characters. I found the mystery element and subsequent reveal of the book to be incredibly well written and paced. I also felt that the science fiction elements were really appropriately woven into the story and added so much depth to the main character and her journey.

This book is ultimately a story about the ways in which grief is dealt with and happiness is pursued. I appreciated that the author did not try to make villains out of characters who sought happiness in unexpected (and unethical) ways, but allowed readers to sit with the characters and develop understanding for the pain they were going through. Chorn also beautifully portrayed in a handful of pages how difficult, slow, and elusive the pursuit of happiness can be.

Overall, a fantastic novella that packs a punch. The author’s talent is astounding and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Score: 9.0 out of possible 10.

Review by Zach Rosenberg

Joy is a woman who exists for her husband. Through the story, we slowly learn just how true that is.

This is not an ‘epic’ fantasy, but there is fantasy to be contained in the novella’s pages. Namely the fantasy of perfection, of a man’s desire manifesting and the obvious question of what happens next? What does the perfect do when she feels imperfect? What happens when someone is created for someone else, only to take on a life and want of her own?

The character portraits are vivid, with Joy being our view into the world and a steady unfolding of mystery that takes place through her eyes. We experience Joy’s world. We see it with her, we experience her emotions through Chorn’s prose.

The prose is where such a minimalist story has to live or die and Chorn does not disappoint. Her prose is absolute, positive poetry in motion. The scenes are detailed lushly, the emotions conveyed in heartbreaking detail. Despite the story being simple, it encompasses two lives and in the end, in their world, that is simply everything.

There is also a compassion to be found within this novel, for its titular character but for those around her. It is impossible not to cheer for Joy as she fights for an identity of her own, while refusing to demonize even the source of her problem. It is a novella about sorrow, but it is also about triumph and courage; the courage to change and overcome. Because change is frightening, and brings with it sorrow, but also joy and hope as well.

The core of the story is to live for yourself, to love yourself and find strength in who you are when you accept yourself. And in that, the story is simply terrific.

Score: 9.0 out of possible 10.

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Beth Note: As I have quite the conflict of interest with Sarah, we work together at GdM constantly. I have been hands off in every way when it comes to this competition and her story. I have not discussed it with any member of the judging team aside from telling them my conflict of interest. The same was true for João F. Silva’s story from the semi’s. 

TOTAL TEAM AVERAGE – 9 OUT OF 10

TOTAL TEAM AVERAGE – 9 OUT OF 10

TOTAL TEAM AVERAGE – 9 OUT OF 10

TOTAL TEAM AVERAGE – 9 OUT OF 10

TOTAL TEAM AVERAGE – 9 OUT OF 10

TOTAL TEAM AVERAGE – 9 OUT OF 10

TOTAL TEAM AVERAGE – 9 OUT OF 10

TOTAL TEAM AVERAGE – 9 OUT OF 10

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