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The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  4,682 ratings  ·  449 reviews
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
Audio CD, 386 pages
Published October 25th 2016 by Brilliance Audio
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,682 ratings  ·  449 reviews

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Theresa Alan
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
After her adopted mother dies, Nina’s desire to find her birth mother is renewed. The search takes her to find a sister, who was adopted into another family and has no desire to befriend Nina or meet her birth mother. Nina eventually wins Lindy over and moves on from her own divorce when she meets a man named Carter with two teenage children.

I found this to be a charming, sweet story of how a person should define “family,” and what the word to means to different people.
For more reviews, please
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
The book begins one evening in 1979. Tilton O’Malley is heading off to college leaving behind his pregnant girlfriend, Phoebe Mullen. Along with another friend A.J. Barnes, they decide to have a night on the town. Tragedy strikes this group, and their lives are changed forever.
It is now 35 years later and we meet Nina Popkin. After the death of her adopted mother, and a failed marriage, she becomes interested in finding her birth mother. She has known that she was adopted her whole life, and as
Cindy Burnett
The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness explores the importance of family and the many forms family can take. Nina Popkin is 35 years old, recently divorced and newly orphaned. Feeling adrift after her numerous significant life changes, she begins to search for her birth mother (she was adopted when she was very young). Not only does she discover her birth mother, but Nina learns that she has a sister related by blood that was also given up for adoption. Lindy McIntyre, Nina’s newly found siste ...more
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-arcs
Full review on

Lake Union has done it again! They are quickly becoming one of my most valued and trusted publishers, it’s getting to the point where I’ll read anything they publish. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this one, but when this gorgeous book showed up in my mailbox, I was immediately interested, then I read the blurb and was even more intrigued. I can’t even imagine not knowing anything about my parents, the uncertainty and heartbreak must be devastating.

May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Survivor's Guide to Surviving Happiness by Maddie Dawson

***Special thanks to author Maddie Dawson, and also to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC of The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness. The thoughts expressed here are my own.

I enjoy reading books about families, and this one was great. I was attracted to the beautiful colourful cover on this book. After her adopted mother dies, Nina's desire to find her birth mother is renewed. The characters were well developed and relateab
Christine Zibas

"Really, how could she have known how much she would miss?"

Is it possible for a chick lit book about a woman searching for her birth mother to be lighthearted? In the case of The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness, the answer is a resounding yes. That makes the lessons conveyed by this novel all the easier going down.

At first, it seems the book is just about a woman, recently divorced, whose adopted mother just died, who is searching for some answers about her past. She wants, like any adopted
Deborah Blanchard
This is a beautiful, crazy, angst filled book. It is a book about finding ones self and finding love and happiness. It is also about so much more. It is about family drama. It is at once heartfelt, heartbreaking and humorous. This is the story of Nina, Lindy and Phoebe. A family bound by blood. All are so different from each other and yet so alike, if that makes any sense. It is told from three different perspectives, that of the three main characters. It has alternating chapters and does this ...more
DJ Sakata
Favorite Quotes:

Even after I finally took the plunge and got married, Dan and I lasted just six months after the wedding, and then one night he took me out to dinner and told me he'd met Julie, and that she had the magic sauce he'd been looking for, so surely I could see that he had to leave, didn't I, because even though he really, really, really like me, and maybe would always love me at some level, it wasn't the level that really counted with his shadow side and his mystical side and the side
Mary (Marbear)
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are not enough stars for this book. Maddie Dawson hits one out of the park. We meet Nina. Her adopted mother had passed away and she's on a mission to found her real mom. She learns she has a sister, Lindy. They set out to find their real mom. Nina is also trying to find love and find true happiness. She meets Carter and his two crazy teenagers. Nina learns to no love is perfect and families don't come ready made. You have to work at love and family to make it work. You will laugh with her ...more
Jennifer Robertson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lynn (Smile24k)
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book grew on me to the point where I ended up really enjoying it and I was sad when it ended. To add to the summary, a woman (Nina) who was adopted as a toddler yearns to find her biological family. Although she was raised by loving and supportive parents, she never felt like she belonged to them. She was determined to find "her" family and not only to find them, but to make them love and want her.

At first I did not care for Nina. I thought she was a little too pushy in an everyone must be
Gabi Coatsworth
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Maddie Dawson's great talent is for making me (and I guess other readers) understand that imperfect relationships are the best we can hope for, and that's fine. This book includes the relationship between adopted girls and their birth mother, the birth mother and her high school romances, one of the daughters' search for a family she can call her own, her relationship with her new-found sister, and her adoptive mother. It may sound like a lot, but the novel handles all of it seamlessly, without ...more
Susan Peterson
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Warm and funny and real

This book is warm and funny and real and messy—a story about families and love with characters who are flawed and wonderful. I laughed and I cried and I was swept away by it all.
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Whew!! This one took me forever to read, not because it was uninteresting but the distraction of the Holidays was irresistible !!

I ADORED Dawson’s Matchmaking For Beginners as it was quirky, fun and completely engaging. So start there if you’re new to Dawson. This book wasn’t quite so sparkly ✨ but it was lovely In its own right.

I’m off to read Dawson’s entire backlist. I’m guessing they are a sure thing.
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
This book explores family and all it's various forms and variations. From the relationship between mothers and daughters, parents and their kids to siblings. Add in the complicated feelings surrounding adoption and this book has a lot going on.

The story is told via the different perspectives of three women - Nina, Phoebe and Lindy - who are each eccentric in their own rights but while they are connected by blood they have been separated by a decision made several decades before. These women have
Cindy Roesel
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Three women, three lives, and one chance to become a family … whether they want to or not.

WARNING: Author, Maddie Dawson’s new novel, SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS (Lake Union Publishing) may cause tears, the desire to hug everyone around you, uncontrollable laughter or all of the above.

Nina Popkin is searching for her birth mother. Newly orphaned, recently divorced, and wandering aimlessly, she’s spent her life looking into strangers’ faces, fantasizing they’re related to her. Now at thi
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: galley, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Full review at

Every once in awhile you pick up a book, and know within the first couple of sentences that it's going to be a favorite. The writing style speaks to you. You want to be best friends with a character. You find yourself invested in their struggles. You are rooting for them with all of your might. I felt this way about the character Nina Popkin in the book The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness by Maddie Dawson.

Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Un
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
4.5 stars. Thanks to Goodreads' First Reads, I read this treasure of a book about family. Laugh out loud moments, relatable characters with great depth, and sage family wisdom, this book was adorable. I enjoy reading about families and this book reminded me why. Highly recommended for fans of family fiction. ...more
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Baer Books, books, authors and everything biblio

Monday, November 14, 2016

This was a great feel good story and would make a wonderful gift for friends and family. Giveaway of one copy for a lucky reader that enters via my Facebook Blog/Group, Baer Books.

Nina Popkin always knew she was adopted. She loved her adoptive parents, but she always felt somehow that she didn't belong, even though she knew they loved her more than anything. She was the child they cou
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I wanted to be friends with Nina or just spend more time with her! I felt strangely like our personalities were morphed together somehow, although I was never an orphan. I just felt happy and enjoyed my time with this story.

I loved Matchmaking for Beginners and I will look for more by this author.
Just Commonly
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness by Maddie Dawson is about belonging; belonging to someone and to one's self. There's a certain oddity and quirkiness about this book and its characters, and I think that makes it work. It works because it doesn't dwell on the poignancy of adoption and what it means to different people, but give it something catchy with its distinct eccentricity. I liked the fact that we have viewpoints of both Nina and Lindy, which are fairly polar opposites when it comes ...more
Now that Nina Popkin has lost her loving mother to cancer, she copes with finding people she “belongs” to. Indeed, Nina suffers of the adoptive child syndrome – not knowing where you come from, not knowing whom you belong to. Nina is a sweet and overall optimistic thirty-five year old single working real estate agent, who actually copes quite well with anything life throws at her. So it’s with a solid determination she decides to find her birth parents in order to silence the questions in her he ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a good, enjoyable book about a woman named Nina and her efforts to find her biological mother. At least that is the starting premise of the book, but it takes off from there to explore Nina' s romantic life and her relationship with her newfound biological sister. I was drawn to read this book because of the adoption aspect, but I actually found the most compelling storyline to be Nina's relationship with Carter, a divorced man who is cluelessly raising two teenage children. The author d ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this 3.5 stars. I really liked the main character's voice. The novel does alternate at times and give us the point of view of other people but I really liked Nina's voice and perspective-even when I found her frustrating (her thoughts or actions) I still preferred her over any of the others. The story is interesting and while it deals with relationships, it is more an overall "finding yourself " and "family drama" with a side of romance. It does have a main relationship that has its ...more
Mrs Mommy Booknerd
This book captures the meaning of family through three different woman that illustrate the struggles of making it though this thing we call life. The character are not perfect and they struggle, but that is what makes it such a good read. You can relate to their hard times and celebrate their victories. I think I felt a bit of everything while reading this book...I laughed and cried and was thoroughly engaged!
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest 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.
Laura Alpert
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really disliked the ending. It was as if the author was rushing to finish the story with an unrealistically happy ending. Blech.
Diane (Books and Tequila Blog)
I really enjoying reading this quirky story. There was so much more emotion than I had expected, both tears and laughs.

“I talked to my mother today,” I said after a long time of us silently sitting next to each other on the couch.
“Your mother that died?”
“No. I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but it’s very hard to talk to dead people. Mostly they don’t answer.”

Nina decides to look for her biological family after her adopted mom passed away. She really had no other family and she is
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52 weeks, 52 books: Week 2016.44: The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness 4 30 Oct 31, 2016 01:43PM  

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I'm the author of eight novels about love, crazy families, secrets, parenthood, and--yes, they have reasonably happy endings. Kind of like life. My newest, A Happy Catastrophe, will be released on May 25, 2020. My other novels are: Matchmaking for Beginners, The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness, The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World and A Piece of Nor ...more

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