The Survivor’s Guide To Family Happiness

The Survivor’s Guide To Family Happiness by Maddie Dawson
Published by Lake Union Publishing
Published 25 October 2016
386 pages
Kindle Owner’s Lending Library

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Three women, three lives, and one chance to become a family…whether they want to or not.

Newly orphaned, recently divorced, and semi adrift, Nina Popkin is on a search for her birth mother. She’s spent her life looking into strangers’ faces, fantasizing they’re related to her, and now, at thirty-five, she’s ready for answers.

Meanwhile, the last thing Lindy McIntyre wants is someone like Nina bursting into her life, announcing that they’re sisters and campaigning to track down their mother. She’s too busy with her successful salon, three children, beautiful home, and…oh yes, some pesky little anxiety attacks.

But Nina is determined to reassemble her birth family. Her search turns up Phoebe Mullen, a guarded, hard-talking woman convinced she has nothing to offer. Gradually sharing stories and secrets, the three women make for a messy, unpredictable family that looks nothing like Nina pictured…but may be exactly what she needs. Nina’s moving, ridiculous, tragic, and transcendent journey becomes a love story proving that real family has nothing to do with DNA.


So he was really, really leaving, like his parents had told him he had to, and even though she already knew he wouldn’t stand up to them, she had held out the tiniest bit of hope that something would happen and there would be a reprieve.


This is my first time reading the author.

I had a great time with The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness. This book is hugely enjoyable and offers the perfect blend of happy moment and sad moments. I loved the characters, they were really and very relatable and I found myself rooting for Nina, hoping she would have a relationship with her real sister and birth mother. She’s the kind of person it’s easy to get behind and fall in love with. She’s strong but very emotional and vulnerable, just the kind of heroine I enjoy the most. I found her story incredibly sad and touching. My heart ached for her when her birth mother finally tells her the story of where she came from and how she came to be adopted. Maybe she would have been better off not knowing the truth? Some things are better left unsaid. I had a lot of sympathy for Phoebe, finding herself forced to come face to face with a past she thought she’d escaped forever. While I can understand Nina and her sister wanting to know where they came from I understood Phoebe’s reluctance to become a part of their lives. If I’d been her I’d never have wanted to see the daughter’s I gave up ever again. The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness packs an emotional punch but manages to not be overly sentimental or twee. It’s just a damn good book.


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