THE SURVIVOR'S GUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS by Maddie Dawson

THE SURVIVOR'S GUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman's quest to find her birth mother takes her in an unexpected direction.

Nina Popkin always wondered where she came from, but after her adoptive mother's death and her own recent divorce she feels more untethered to the world than usual. Before she died, Nina's mother was only able to provide her with three clues regarding her origin: the names of the orphanage and a potentially helpful nun and an allusion to a mysterious photograph squirreled away somewhere in the house. Unfortunately for Nina, her adoption records are technically sealed, though Sister Germaine doesn't exactly follow the rules. She finds out that she has a younger sister who was also given up for adoption, and the orphanage arranges a meeting. Turns out, Nina already knew her sister: they went to grammar school together. Though sharing her vibrant red hair, Nina's sister, Lindy, does not share her enthusiasm for putting her birth family back together. After finding out more about her early days than she wanted to know, Lindy storms out of the office and Sister Germaine follows, leaving Nina alone with all her records. She learns both her mother's name and the fact that she was only 15 when Nina was born. But from there, her mother's story gets a bit more complicated: she had been moderately famous, the lead singer of a girl band in the ’80s. And when Nina decides to contact her, it appears at first that she wants nothing to do with the daughters she gave up so many years earlier. Told from the perspectives of Nina, Lindy, and their mother, Phoebe, the novel navigates their often twisting paths back to one another, as all the women realize that the bonds of family develop both by choice and by DNA.

Dawson (The Opposite of Maybe, 2014, etc.) is a generous storyteller, creating characters who are both complex and unexpected while being wholly relatable.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5039-3910-3
Page count: 410pp
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2016




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