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The Art of Adapting

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  330 ratings  ·  83 reviews
In this warm and winning first novel, a recently divorced woman rises to the challenge and experiences the exhilaration of independence with the unlikely help of her brother with Asperger's, who she takes in to help pay the rent.

Seven months after her husband leaves her, Lana is still reeling. Being single means she is in charge of every part of her life, and for the first
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 29th 2014 by Touchstone
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  330 ratings  ·  83 reviews

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Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I picked this up on impulse at the library last night and once I started it I couldn’t put it down. The story ostensibly revolves around Lana, a woman whose husband has left her with two teenage children, but the real star is Matt, Lana’s brother who has Asperger’s. It is through his observations and interactions that the story really comes to life and evolves. Matt, through his own “too fast moving mind”, is able to piece together clues and avert disasters and forge stronger family bonds.

The wh
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This well written family drama is definitely a feel good kind of book. There are four main characters, and each of their stories is told in alternating chapters. There's Lana, who is recently divorced and trying to regain her footing. Matt, her autistic brother who has moved in with Lana and has a unique perception on the world. Abby, a young teen who has a bad eating disorder. And Byron, who is girl crazy and trying to figure out what his place in the world is. Each character has a distinct voi ...more
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: advance-copies
I got a free copy of this from work. A free copy does not a good review make.

I was sorting through the pile of ARCs at work and this grabbed me right away - Asperger's? I'm there. And I was not disappointed, either. There's no Rain Man feel about Matt, Lana's brother. Lana is the crux of the story, trying to hold her family together and her body together and manager the way through her husband's exit from the family. I like that each chapter was from a rotating point of view - Abby (the teen dau
Lisa Lemus
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Not really my style. The first few chapters were promising, and kept me going to the end hoping to recapture that desire to read more. The main issue I had with this book is that there didn't seem to be much conflict. Divorce, check. Eating disorder, check. Girl problems, check. Mental Illness, check. But somehow the book just skated over these issues like they were nothing, and things were very easily resolved.

I wasn't blown away, hoping that any future books will have a little more oompth.
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
Why do I keep trying to read books like I insist to myself that this time I will like it?
Story Circle Book Reviews
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I did not want this grand book to end. I was so caught up in the lives of the characters that it was as if I had known them forever. Cassandra Dunn's first novel is set in California and tells the story of a woman newly separated from her husband, her two teen-aged children and her brother who has Asperger's.

The book is told in alternating chapters, each devoted to the point of view of one of these four family members and, as it progresses, you really get to know, sympathize, and root for them a
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it
A very sweet story that had a lot of heart. There were 4 main characters: Lana, a recent divorcee in her mid 40's, her teenage son Byron trying to figure out who he is, her teenage daughter Abby who has developed an eating disorder and her brother Matt who recently moved in with them, and also has Asperger's. The chapters were equally divided into each persons point of view which I really enjoyed. I liked the beginning of the book more than the middle and end....maybe there was a promising feeli ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book. I love a book from which there is a lot to learn. Reading this book taught me so much about Aspberger's, autism, anorexia, parkour, and the beautiful Hungarian Vizsla (dog). This book was about, as the title states, adapting to major changes in life. In this case, Lana is adjusting to being a single mother after her husband leaves her with their two teenage children. The story, however, is not exclusively about Lana and that's what I enjoyed most. We learn what it's like to cope ...more
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
For the past two weeks my commute to work has been flying by. I normally take a nap on the way to work, and read on the way home from work. But recently I have given up my morning naps. Why? Because I was so engrossed in The Art of Adapting by Cassandra Dunn.

I'm a sucker for family dramas. The family in this book certainly has its issues.

Lana is recently separated from her husband, Graham. She's left to raise her teenage children, Byron and Abby. Her money is dwindling. On top of all that, she h
Carol Brill
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Somewhere between a 3 and 4 for me. Good story and writing, just took me a while to connect with the characters. That often happens for me when POV varies by chapter--I prefer stories told from one character's POV. With multiple POV's, it takes a while to get to know each character. The exception is that I felt I knew Matt, a character with Asperger's syndrome, almost immediately. The specific details, cadence and tone of his thoughts so often felt spot on. Bravo.
By mid-point, I knew and cared
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: brettlikesbooks
a family in various states of crisis learning to take care of each other + sweet & sincere ••• "Lana stared at him for a long time. Then she smiled. 'You just sit there quietly observing and taking notes and we all think you're in your own world. But then you say something like that and I realize you're in our world, and you see it clearer than any of us.'"

instagram book reviews @brettlikesbooks
Robyn Renzy
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable read. Recommend for sure!
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is not the sort of novel I am usually drawn towards (family drama) but I enjoyed it. It was gentle and sweet. I wonder if when I picked it off the shelf I was thinking of Katherine Dunn (who wrote Geek Love which is an entirely different kettle of fish). It’s funny that I just tried to read a novel about a struggling mom, Come with Me, and could not bear to finish it. I think the difference is in the tone—this one is much kinder.
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the best novels I've read in a while.
The story is told from the points of view of four of the main characters, all members of the same family, who are struggling with varied personal issues. As the book begins, they are all living together, a mother, her two teenaged children, and the mother's adult younger brother, who has Asperger's syndrome. As each family member works to resolve their own issues, they learn to open up to one another for support, and eventually they begin to
Elizabeth Ray
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was truly a wonderful book and a gem of a novel. Lana is newly divorced with two teenage children- son Byron and daughter Abby. She recently moved in her brother, Matt, who has Asperger's, because he was getting into trouble with drugs. This is a family in transition. Each family member is dealing with their own issues. Lana struggles to find her voice and strength after divorcing a controlling husband. Abby is struggling with body image and an eating disorder. Byron has many passions and d ...more
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Cassandra Dunn’s The Art of Adapting is one of those books that has one expecting a happy ending from the beginning. A middle-aged woman recently abandoned by her husband, her brother with Asperger’s syndrome, her son looking for a social niche, and her daughter with an eating disorder—yes, I suppose a writer could make a tragedy out of those elements, but that would be cruel. With characters who come so close ourselves (and these characters do) we need hope, need a sense of how an individual ma ...more
John (JP)
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Art of Adapting, Cassandra Dunn

This is a year in the life of a divorced woman her children a son and a daughter and her brother who has autism. There is nothing over the top dramatic that happens. I am recommending the book on the strength of the writer’s story telling ability. The title “The Art of Adapting “ comes from the characters need to adapt to their new living situations. Lana the mother begins to cope with her change in status from protected spouse to single mother and her brother’s ca
R J Mckay
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book from Goodreads in exchange for a review.

Lana, Abby and Byron, her teenage children, and Matt, her brother, are all living under one roof. They are all struggling to overcome a major roadblock that has been placed in front of them. Lana is trying to find a way to move forward after separating from her husband. Matt, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is trying to overcome his pill and alcohol dependence, a result of his self-medicating. Abby, is trying to deal with the new family d
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lana is separated from her husband, which gives her freedom--freedom to make mistakes with her autistic brother, and teenage children Byron and Abby. Struggling with her finances, and new choices, it's hard for Lana to catch all the struggles that beset her little family. Matt seems like the difficult one, set on an inflexible schedule, unable to face change--but the teens aren't coping too well with the split. In the end, Matt's differences help Lana and the others see their situation in a diff ...more
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Art of Adapting is one of the best novels I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Cassandra Dunn tells the story of a family (mother, teenaged son, teenaged daughter, and the mother's brother) trying to find a new "normal" after the father of the family decides to move out. Dunn cleverly breathes life into her characters, fleshing them out with rich detail and letting each character's thoughts and perspective shine through. Every character is relatable and very likeable, especiall ...more
Brandi Collins
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a well-written story about a family's struggles with divorce, eating disorders, and Asperger's. The characters are believable and complex. I had a hard time putting this book down when it was time to go to sleep. ...more
Lydia Presley
I struggled with THE ART OF ADAPTING because in some ways, I really loved it and in others I found it predictable and a bit boring. In this story by Cassandra Dunn, a newly-separated mother of teenagers has to deal with putting herself back out there, adapting to life without her husband (but still with him in it some, as they are only separated), and watching out for a grown brother who has struggles with Asperger's Syndrome. It seems like it's almost too much for one book to handle, but that's ...more
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was so well-written that I truly felt as if I became a part of this wonderful family. Lana is picking up the pieces of her life after her husband leaves her, and her teen son and daughter, are also facing their own challenges. When Lana's adult brother, who has Aspergers, moves in with them, each must learn how to move forward with their lives. I found this book hard to put down, and hated to see it end. It definitely ranks as one of my top reads of 2014, and I can't wait t ...more
Chelsea P
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book about a mother, Lana, her two teenaged kids, and her autistic brother coping with major changes in their lives. The writing was straightforward and thoughtful which drew me in to each of the characters and the way they each struggled with life and each other. Matt, the autistic brother, was my favorite character in the book. Even with his challenges as an autistic man and maybe even because of his challenges, he seemed to be the one that held the family together. The s ...more
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
When I started this book I was suspect about how much I would enjoy it. It seemed to be about a separated mother who was all lost and adrift and I thought "oh here we go again". However as the book continued, I really started to get into it. Each of the four main characters who live together have their own voice through the book and it is the other three characters that especially liven the book up. Everyone has to find their own way forward and find their "adaptation" - which mainly seems to ad ...more
Lucy Bowler
The Art of Adapting by Cassandra Dunn centres on Lana, her two children and brother who find themselves housemates following her separation. Each of them experience growth throughout the novel, helping each other directly and indirectly in order to do so. Family is one of my favourite themes in reading and I loved these characters and enjoyed watching their relationships strengthen. A gentle read, highly recommended.
J.D. Spero
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Restores faith in humanity. I'd had some bad luck with a run of duds in my reading repertoire and longed for a book that would give me that "can't wait to get back to it" feeling, make me cry happy tears, and inspire me from a writing perspective. I'm so glad I chose this book. It gave me just what I needed. I'm sad it's over. ...more
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: issues, fiction, humor
This book is an amusing and entertaining read, but it also offers serious topics for discussion in a compassionate way. Lana and her two children are dealing with being on their own. Her husband has decided that he no longer wants to be married. To further complicate her life she has chosen to provide a home for her brother Matt, who has Aspergers's Syndrome. ...more
Donna Merritt
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Told from the view of a forty-something woman getting divorced, her two teen kids with their own worries, and her brother (who has Asperger's), this is an entertaining and thoughtful book.

Minor grumblings . . . could be a bit didactic in parts and the longer dialogues were not always realistic. Still, as a debut novel, it's excellent and I look forward to more works by Ms. Dunn.
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lots of different aspects to the book. Many layers to the story. Really enjoyed getting to know each character individually. Nice story!
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads but it has no bearing on the rating I gave it.
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Asperger's Syndrome 1 5 Jun 02, 2014 11:53AM  

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Cassandra Dunn, a Bay Area native, is the author of The Art of Adapting (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster). She was a semifinalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and a finalist for Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers. She's published twelve short stories. She has two amazing daughters and one awesome Vizsla. ...more

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