SFINCS Review: A Sorrow Named Joy by Sarah Chorn

Today’s review is about A SORROW NAMED JOY by Sarah Chorn. This novella follows a woman named Joy who enjoys predictability and creating the perfect home life for her husband. But she uncovers a secret about herself that forces her to realize she doesn’t exactly know who she is or what she likes.

SFINCS logoThis review is brought to you by my participation in the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship (SFINCS). SFINCS, pronounced “sphinx”, is a yearly competition to recognize, honor, and celebrate the talent and creativity present in the indie community. It’s a sister competition to both SPFBO and SPSFC, and it highlights greatness in the novella format in all areas of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc.). I am part of Team Behind the Musings. You can find out more about us here.

Author: Sarah Chorn
Series: None
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Self-Published
Publish Date: January 10, 2022
Print Length: 74
Purchase: Amazon

Official Synopsis

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.

My Review

A SORROW NAMED JOY is the story of a woman whose happiness derives from ensuring others’ happiness, in particular her husband’s happiness. Joy finds peace in gardening, cleaning, and grocery shopping. But her true contentedness comes from seeing her husband live in comfort. One morning, however, she comes across a photo that she has no memory of, yet she is in it. This spurs an unexpected turn of reality.

Despite the rather shocking reveal, this novella has a serene and unhurried tone. Told from Joy’s point of view, I think this reflects Joy’s inner peace with her life. But I also think the idyllic nature could serve as a talking point regarding long-held cultural programming of stereotypical gender roles. Joy is so wrapped up in creating a relaxing environment for her husband that she doesn’t realize that she doesn’t know exactly what she likes. All of her hobbies rotate around making her husband comfortable. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it raises the question of whether losing yourself in another is ideal. (Perhaps I’m looking too deeply into this story, but these are the thoughts that went through my mind while reading it! I should point out that Joy’s husband, Mike, is not the villain here.)

Once Joy learns about her husband’s secret, she also learns more about who she is. This forces her to realize what exactly she likes to do versus what she did solely for her husband’s sake. In the end, A SORROW NAMED JOY is a story about looking inward and understanding who you are and what makes you happy.

Rating: withheld
Content warnings: terminal illness (historical)
Reading format: Kindle e-book

5 thoughts on “SFINCS Review: A Sorrow Named Joy by Sarah Chorn

  1. Interesting. Normally I wouldn’t want to read about a woman who dotes on a man 100 % of her time, but I’m sure the reveal takes the story in another direction. And I do love the cover!

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