Happy Valley is an intimate, strange and quirky family diary chronicling, through portraits and unscripted moments, the everyday lives and relationships of typical middle-class white kids (my nieces and nephews) over several years as they come of age in the ever-changing but sheltered milieu of contemporary suburban America (in Utah/Colorado).

Being brought up an average, middle-class kid like my nieces and nephews, we share the same history of a seemingly normal, modestly privileged suburban life. But our story differs drastically from our grandparent’s and great-grandparent’s, which was marred by suicide, alcoholism, lack of education, mental illness, poverty, and divorce. Happy Valley embraces this rich history and links the complex narratives of disparate generations with a personal, revealing look at my family’s youngest members.

Share Happy Valley

Amelia, cute blonde teenage girl in vintage roller skates, does the splits on a bench by brightly colored striped wall in Classic Skating rink at the birthday party of her father's boss. Orem, UtFunny quirky blonde Caucasian girl holds up half a PB&J sandwich in each hand marching forward while eating lunch with a group of three girlfriends who sit on steps in her family's suburban home on a bright sunny summer day. Pleasant Grove, UtahGolden and Dean, close teenage boys and brothers who are shirtless and bare chested, cuddle while lying in bed together talking in the morning as they wake up. Pleasant Grove, UtahPratt, a young blonde boy uses the urinal in the side locker room with mountain mural painted on a brick wall at the local pool before swimming. Pleasant Grove, UtYoung blonde girl with make-up bags and kit, acting like an adult, puts on mascara, lipstick, and eye-liner and curls her eyelashes while looking in mirror in hallway of family's suburban home. Pleasant Grove, UtahA young teeange girl does gymnastics moves while balancing on a concrete ledge as her younger brother and sister copy her with a view of mountains and her family's suburban neighborhood in background. Pleasant Grove, UtahYoung angry mad upset blonde girl kid child pouts cries whines sitting alone in center of suburban street curled up face down arms folded around knees with homes basketball hoop and Wasatch mountains behind Pleasant Grove UtahPair of young semi-nude blonde boys brothers kids children siblings in Batman branded underwear lovingly embrace hugging each other in front yard of family's suburban home row of bicycles behind leaning on house wall Provo, UtahMabel, a young blonde Caucasian girl sits on a pink bicycle with training wheels given as a birthday gift in the kitchen of her family's suburban home. Pleasant Grove, UtahPouting sulking mad angry annoyed irate unhappy blonde teenage girl kid covers hides face body towel sits on bench swing backporch of family's lake house playing tubing fun on boating in summer beach balls toys Lake Tyler TexasBrooklyn, 10, a smiling blonde girl, points a large plastic toy water gun toward the cloudy sky while playing in the front lawn of a family friend's suburban home in the summer. Pleasant Grove, UtGolden, a blonde teen boy in tank top (wife beater) and sunglasses sits on a bench with girls friends relaxing, sunbathing, and tanning in bikinis nearby at a local pool on a hot sunny summer day. Pleasant Grove, UtFunny quirky silly humorous comical blonde girl kid child plays inflates pink balloon covers hides faceless head bites holds in mouth leans relax rest on bed in chaotic messy room with toys books on floor Denver ColoradoDean, a stylish teenage Caucasian boy wearing a wife beater shirt and boots sits on the front steps of his family's suburban home as he works weeding the large rose flower bushes in the yard in the evening at sunset. Pleasant Grove, UtahStrange, silly blonde girl holding hands to face pretends to be scared and afraid standing on rock ledge playing in friend's suburban backyard  fence and Wasatch mountains and group of girls in background on summer evening at sunset. Orem, UtahPortrait of a young blonde teeange girl wearing a ballerina outfit resting one leg up on the kitchen counter as she texts with friends on her cellphone in her family's suburban home. Pleasant Grove, UtahStrange odd weird bizarre cute young blonde girl kid child in pink dress rose rests relax bed in warm late beautiful stunning afternoon light with awkward blank gaze face stare look suburban suburbia home Pleasant Grove, UtahGroup of bored restless teen boys kids guys brothers siblings family and friend hoodie sit atop a plastic toy slide at Discovery Park summer suburban playground watch a soccer (football) match game sports Pleasant Grove, UtahFunny silly quirky blonde boy kid child holds up styrofoam play fake pretend fantasy toy sword blade triumphantly victorious conquer winner in dramatic theatrical patch of light in family's suburban home Pleasant Grove, UtahA blonde teenage boy with a water canon in hand watches floats in the Strawberry Days celebration parade go by as his sister and other girls play with water canons. Spanish Fork, UtahYoung white-haired girl kid child screams yells shrieks loudly as her mother parent sits on chair has a phone conversation talking on iPhone in family's suburban backyard in summer afternoon Pleasant Grove, UtahCute adorable sweet young blonde girl kid child perches crouches sits plays in tree with bare limbs branches dry leaves on colorful fall season autumn warm sunset dusk suburbs Pleasant Grove UtahA teenage blonde boy thoughtfully lays on the grass and ponders to himself while his much smaller cousins play together on a blanket in the backyard at a family reunion. Mormons are notorious for having large families, and mine is no exception. Most of my siblings have on average five children.Provo, UTA young blonde girl wearing only underwear, floaties for swimming and a beanie (winter cap) plays dress up in the living room of her family's suburban home with her mother breastfeeding her infant son on the couch while texting on her cellphone. Denver, ColoradoFrustrated angry tall teenage boy kid hides face in sweater standing in yard of family's suburban home patches of cold winter snow ice on ground covering green grass  limbs tree shadows on blue house Pleasant Grove UtahMabel, 5, a happy, smiling shirtless blonde girl on a walk with her brother Pratt and family pulls off her sweater, freely flinging it around after becoming hot on a walk along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains above their suburban neighborhood on a summer afternoon. Pleasant Grove, UtahGolden and Dean, a pair of tired teen boys who are brothers, rest and relax on the lawn while napping after eating pizza for lunch at a local shopping center and strip mall on a summer afternoon. Pleasant Grove, UtahA young cool, stylish girl wearing sunglasses who is a bit of a fashionista apathetically poses on the front porch of her family's suburban home. Pleasant Grove, UtahA teenage boy and two member of his family, a little brother and sister, stand on the top of Mary's Hill and look out over Utah Valley and the Wasatch Mountains behind their family's suburban neighborhood. Pleasant Grove, Utah