Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness by Maddie Dawson - #review

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (October 25, 2016)
Three women, three lives, and one chance to become a family…whether they want to or not.

Newly orphaned, recently divorced, and semiadrift, 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.



Life?  Messy.  Stories about real life?  Messier.  Really true stories about real life?  Don't get me started!

The blood relations in Survivor's Guide live in no fairy tale.  Nina has been searching for 'real family' for a long time.  Lindy is quite happy with the status quo (which does not include these new 'family members'), thank you very much.  Phoebe doesn't want to know from anyone, let alone 'family'.

So what is Nina to do?  She respects the wishes of the other two by not being obnoxious in pursuit of what she wants over the expense of others.  And she stays true to her mission.

Ms. Dawson's prose takes the messy gumbo of family, complements with the seasoning of siblings from other mothers (and fathers) and makes a tasty and fulfilling tale.  The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness is a well-crafted story, satisfying long after turning the pages (or swiping the finger across the screen) is a memory.



Maddie Dawson grew up in the South, born into a family of outrageous storytellers. Her various careers as a substitute English teacher, department-store clerk, medical-records typist, waitress, cat sitter, wedding-invitation-company receptionist, nanny, day-care worker, electrocardiogram technician, and Taco Bell taco maker were made bearable by thinking up stories as she worked. Today she lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with her husband. She’s the bestselling author of four previous novels: The Opposite of MaybeThe Stuff That Never HappenedKissing Games of the World, and A Piece of Normal.


Click on the button to go to the tour page where you will find links to more reviews of this title.  You can also find out how to become a blog host for future book tours!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)


  1. This statement "real family has nothing to do with DNA" has piqued my interest and curiosity and the story line sounds interesting too. Thanks for the recommendation, LuAnn! I am picking this up soon!

  2. That sounds like an interesting story, LuAnn! Lovely book cover, too! I would like to read the book.

    Thank you for coming by my blog and for your kind comment! ♥

  3. Family is always something messy which needs handling, and it's uncanny when you can find the people you consider to be family, and how, and what the reasons are for them coming into your life. Great review, girl <3

  4. Life is messy, and anyone who can make a good story out of that mess has my respect.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  5. I hadn't heard of this one- but it sounds like it is very well done. I enjoyed the review and look forward to checking it out. Thanks for sharing. :)