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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2016 Maddie Dawson. (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What listeners say about The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness

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  • Overall
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  • DD
  • 07-20-18

The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness

This book was difficult for me, not because it was a bad read but I because I saw much of myself in Nina that I was annoyed. I wanted her to live outside of her head, I mean dreams. But I'm kind of like that, always living in my head. And I will have to say the story did not get interesting for me until I started hearing it from Lindy's perspective. I thought Nina was interesting but Lindy captured my attention because of her quirks and because I thought her husband was hiding something. As the story progressed all the characters were interesting and quirky and a little bit likable.

I think the narrator helped me to see the characters just as the author intended for them to be seen and experienced as the reader/listener delved into the story. I felt Nina's desire to belong, Lindy's struggle to remain aloft and in control, Phoebe's pain about how everything turned out in her life and resignation that nothing good could come into her life. Carter and Jeff also annoyed me but eventually Carter grew on me. His views on some things in life were fascinating. Ultimately the narrator made me see why the title of the book fits this story perfectly. Don't we all have our own survivor's guide to family happiness?

We are all learning that family can consist of people who are not necessarily your biological relatives, that at times we have to take the good with the bad and we can't make people be what we want them to be. Also, that each of us has a journey that we are either willing to share with others or sail on the boat alone. And sometimes you don't have to sail with blood relatives because the journey at times is more enjoyable with those who really love and care about us. Sometimes that could be blood relatives, but equally just people we choose to adopt as relatives.

1 person found this helpful

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Insight Regarding Anxious Attachment

I relate to this story all too well.

The author's ability to portray anxious attachment was refreshing. I often see myself and my attachment style through a fun house mirror, with little fun involved. Through Nina's POV, I was reminded of the hardships, strength, and a desire to belong that are all at the root of anxious attachment. The desire to be loved and belong brings with it a nasty list of habits that we feel we must overcome.... but Nina reminded me of the beauty that also resides within those of us who are looking to find our place.

For anyone who has ever wondered what it takes to make someone "stay...." This story is for you. It's a benevolent reminder that love is a reckoning force, as is loss, and I hope it brings you the same sense of compassion towards yourself that we all deserve to experience.

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New Favorite!!

This was such an amazing story!! I love the author and narrator so very much!

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Enjoyable story about adoption, life, parenting, family, loss, love, & friendship

I enjoyed the story. I disliked the use of G** D*****.. I prayed for God to forgive them for saying it ugh. The narrator over enunciated words like other review said but it wasn’t bothersome enough to stop me from listening.
Overall it was a good book. I don’t know why movies and audibles feel like need to say G D.. there’s plenty of other curse words lol I would have given 5 stars.

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Different tone than the first 2 I read

A little corny but overall, a good listen. I read 2 of Ms Dawson's earlier books, they were almost too stark, buy I enjoyed them enough to try a third. seems like she lurches a bit between a tad to serious and bitter adult to almost YA. But overall, I am willing to try another eventually, maybe she will find a balance. But either way, I would recommend this book.

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Heart and comedy

I love Maddie Dawson’s stories, the make me laugh and cry! This was my new favorite of all her books so far. I also think Amy McFadden is a fabulous narrator and great with giving each character their own voice.

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Not Predictable

Really good story without the predictable outcomes i expected. definitely kept me engaged to the end.

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Wonderful story

Loved this story and all of the wonderfully flawed characters. We have been blessed greatly by the adoption of our daughter, so that made this story extra interesting to me. Great job on the narration as well.

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Narrator was awful. distracted from entire book

couldn't complete entire book the narrator's voice was too annoying. Will not purchase any thing she narrates in future

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  • KS
  • 01-28-20

Narrator's a little annoying but still good

My official review for this book can be found at the following web site: https://opinionatededucator.tumblr.com/post/190518905565/the-survivors-guide-to-family-happiness

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  • Leigh UK
  • 10-18-17

What a beautiful story!

It made laugh like a loo in public, by glassy-eyed during household chores, and struggle to stay awake to hear what Nina did next. A truly moving story that anyone with family (related by blood or heart) can identify with. Just beautiful!