[Review] The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness

29806094 I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

*Contains minor plot spoilers*

Three women, three lives, and one chance to become a family…whether they want to or not.

Quick fire review

This is a quirky little book that has some great laugh out loud moments balanced with a lot of heart. The characters are really well developed and the author infuses great depth into her writing to bring to life these three women and their struggles.


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.



Can we just take a moment to acknowledge how great this cover is? I love the simplicity and the colours.

This was one of those books that I knew I was going to enjoy really early on. Author Maddie Dawson has such a distinct writing style that draws you in to these characters from the outset; every tragic moment breaks your heart and you can’t help but root for Nina. I loved every raw emotion and the personal journey you get to take with these characters.

Nina is the hero of this book. A smart, vulnerable and witty woman, Nina has known she was adopted her whole life. While she was raised by two loving parents, she couldn’t help but wonder who her birth parents are and speculating as to what they might look like and why they gave her up for adoption. After her adoptive parents both pass away, her curiosity kicks into high gear and she begins searching for answers.

Lindy is a secondary character that is just as important as Nina. I wish there had been a little more of her in the book because I felt like she still had some more to offer. Like Nina, Lindy has always known she was adopted however her desire to find her birth parents is null and void. Content with her life as it is and not wanting to dredge up anything painful from her past, Nina and Lindy butt heads when they initially meet…and Nina tells her they are sisters.

The dynamic between the three women who make up this story is incredibly captivating. They are all flawed characters who are struggling both personally and as a family unit. I really loved that the author took risks with these characters and it was nice that she was able to include the reader in what was an intensely emotional journey. From celebrating their victories and witnessing some rather low points, you can’t help but be drawn into this family.


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2 thoughts on “[Review] The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness

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