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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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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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!

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  • DD
  • 20-07-18

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.

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  • Nancy
  • 25-04-21

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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  • Jenna Walker
  • 21-09-20

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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  • dove
  • 18-08-20

Not Predictable

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

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  • ablessedgirl
  • 25-07-20

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-06-20

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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  • OpinionatedEducator
  • 28-01-20

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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  • squishy
  • 16-01-20

Drug on and on and on

I’m in the minority here its seems. This story took waaay too long to get said. Maybe part of it is I can’t stand McFadden as a narrator. Her over precise pronunciations, the words that have an “e” are pronounced with an “a” like bed is bad, said is sad, it is so annoying. She read so slow,( everyone sounded drunk at times) with many long pauses that prob added an hour total. I also found the characters annoying,whiney,obnoxious and so dang needy. Nina is all about “me” and I want”. She never ever bothered to consider how her mom felt(and told her) about the situation. She just kept pushing,but “I feel, I want, I need”. Really pretty selfish. Then when she (mom) DID give them info, surprise, they didnt like it. Well?....I skipped many chapters and STILL things were dragging,discussing the same things. If something could be described in a couple words, it took 10 to do it.
Finally skipped to the end, what a weary,dreary story

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  • SandyB
  • 08-08-19

I adored this story

I adored this book - intriguing story and full of real people with real quirks and personalities. This is the second book I've read from Maddie Dawson and she is fast becoming one of my favourite authors of all time.

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  • MammaYumYum
  • 30-07-19

A good story...

Narrator was great......story was just Ok. I would still recommend as a good read.