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Jackie Shannon Hollis's book explores meaning, self acceptance and happiness

COURTESY PHOTO: JACKIE SHANNON HOLLIS - This Particular Happiness written by Jackie Shannon Hollis, writes the story of her life  —from her girlhood in rural Oregon, where she both broke and followed the rules, to her hard-earned self-acceptance at middle age. For Aloha resident and author Jackie Shannon Hollis, her newest book "This Particular Happiness," is a love story — not just the usual "boy meets girl" variety — but one about loving yourself and your decisions.

Already praised by Portland writer Cheryl Strayed, known for her bestselling book turned movie "Wild," as "a gloriously wise memoir about one woman's unexpected path to becoming," Hollis shares her story as a woman navigating what it means to led a life while being childless.

Published by Forest Avenue Press, a Portland-based group known for its independently produced fiction, "This Particular Happiness" is the group's first nonfiction book, an exciting opportunity for Hollis, she said. The book is scheduled to be released Oct. 1.

"This Particular Happiness" is a memoir, Hollis said, exploring Hollis and her partner Bill's relationship after he shares he does not want children, and how her love for him is greater than opting to have a child or lead a life without him.

"This book speaks to my original ideas about meaning and purpose," Hollis said. "It also explores identity as a woman who didn't have children, raised in a culture and a family where that is what you do."

The title addresses how happiness can be found in many forms and is not a "one size fits all," she said.

"I really went back and forth a lot," Hollis said about wanting to have children. "Part of me wanted to, but there was also this part of me that knew there are other ways to live and be."

Hollis turned to writing as a way to deal with her own past trauma. In college, a stranger broke into her apartment and sexually assaulted her, she said.

"I pursued therapy, and my husband was amazing and supportive," Hollis said, but it wasn't until a friend recommended a book called 'The Artist's Way' that she began using her own writing as a way to heal.

"After work, I would write pages. I would begin writing about the rape and it led me to write a different book about it."

Hollis began writing full time not long after this part of her life, with her work appearing in publications including The Sun, Rosebud, Inkwell, High Desert Journal, VoiceCatcher, Nailed, and Slice Magazine.

COURTESY PHOTO: JACKIE SHANNON HOLLIS - Jackie Shannon Hollis, 60, is an author living and working in Aloha and the Portland metro area. Her book, This Particular Happiness, releases Friday, Oct. 1. Much of "This Particular Happiness" centers around interactions with friends and family, who have been majorly supportive of Hollis's story, she said.

"As I went along, I saw this as a story about not only loving Bill, but also my mother, my father, the love of the place I came from, places I went to, the love between friends and also an exploration of my relationship with myself," Hollis said.

When she isn't busy writing, she holds writing workshops for people facing homelessness at Multnomah County libraries or collaborating with her husband in teaching counseling workshops on communication and relationships.

Recently, she recorded the audiobook version of "This Particular Happiness," which will also release next month.

A book launch for her book is planned at Powell's Books in the Pearl District on Friday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. She will also be at the Portland Book Festival in November and at a variety of book events including an author's reading at Annie Bloom's.

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