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Publisher's Summary

Smart and inventive, an emotional and addictive novel that considers the elusive definition of happiness. 

Pearl's job is to make people happy. Every day, she provides customers with personalized recommendations for greater contentment. She's good at her job, her office manager tells her, successful. But how does one measure an emotion? 

Meanwhile, there's Pearl's teenage son, Rhett. A sensitive kid who has forged an unconventional path through adolescence, Rhett seems to find greater satisfaction in being unhappy. The very rejection of joy is his own kind of "pursuit of happiness". As his mother, Pearl wants nothing more than to help Rhett - but is it for his sake or for hers? Certainly it would make Pearl happier. Regardless, her son is one person whose emotional life does not fall under the parameters of her job - not as happiness technician, and not as mother, either. 

Told from an alternating cast of endearing characters from within Pearl and Rhett's world, Tell the Machine Goodnight delivers a smartly moving and entertaining story about relationships and the ways that they can most surprise and define us. Along the way, Katie Williams playfully illuminates our national obsession with positive psychology, and our reliance on quick fixes and technology. What happens when these obsessions begin to overlap? With warmth, humor, and a clever touch, Williams taps into our collective unease about the modern world and allows us see it a little more clearly.

©2018 Katie Williams (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Rebecca Lowman leads an all-star cast of narrators in a playful, thought-provoking audiobook that uses its near-future setting to ask big questions about the nature of happiness.... Each narrator is perfectly matched to the character being voiced. Arthur Morey's winsome, devil-may-care interpretation of Pearl's charming but unreliable ex-husband is especially memorable. This audiobook is an excellent example of a full-cast recording done right." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Tell the Machine Goodnight

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Heartrending and Original

The premise for this story (a machine that can tell you what to do to be "happy," usually a list of totally strange and inexplicable things like "eat honey" or "don't slouch") is strange but simple, and serves as a backdrop for some truly well-rendered human drama. Pearl, a technician who uses the titular machine to tell people their paths to contentment, struggles to understand why her teenage son doesn't seem to want to be happy and healthy. Her efforts to get closer to him and to help him are heartbreaking and so relatable. Meanwhile Rhett, the son in question, is lost in a world that doesn't make sense to him, a character that anyone who struggled as a teenager, or just with the overwhelming strangeness and difficulty of living will understand.
The cast of characters who populate the novel are unique and interesting, and I found myself won over (sometimes inexplicably) by every single one of them. It touches on so many relevant themes: our obsession with the quest to be happy, our reliance on psychology and technology, our struggle to make true connections in a world where we are all stuck in our own unique experiences. This is a bittersweet story, not simple enough for traditional happy endings, but I loved it.
#heartfelt #clever #femaleprotagonist #speculativefiction #humandrama #psychology #technology #tagsgiving #sweepstakes

7 people found this helpful

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Realistic Sci-Fi

A very believable family, social, work multi-generational dynamic. The sci-fi sneaks up in the everydayness of this interesting story that deals with a difficult coming of age and parents maturing into emotional adults. A well-told well-rounded story with just enough YA. romance, tech, suspense and mother's love to have a great story for everyone

4 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written and imaginative

This book has a fascinating premise, and the premise and the characters develop throughout the story. This is not a page-turning roller coaster ride, more a series of related vignettes from the viewpoints of various characters. None the less, it held my attention and I look forward to more from this author.

3 people found this helpful

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phenomonal--in both sense of the word

. . . . . . ... ... . . . . . . ...... ... .. ........ ............. .........

2 people found this helpful

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the story felt incomplete

i enjoyed the story very much but felt it ended with very little to hold on to. Not sure if I'd recommend unless there's another book?

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Best book I’ve listened to in a long time

Wholly original, this is a story about a woman navigating a world in which her job is to deliver the secret key to happiness to her customers. It is near future, but it doesn’t feel like run-of-the-mill sci-fi as the core of the story is about Pearl and the characters who come into and out of her life.

I will be devouring any books Katie Williams has written.

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good book but the ending was trash

some what depressing but good at same time. it's drama but normal life type drama everybe can easily relate to

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Big YAWN

Jeez, I hated this book. Dumb dumb dumb. Save yourself from this yawny yawner.
So bad.

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