Storytelling is in Maddie Dawson’s blood. She grew up in the South listening to relatives spin yarn after yarn: about how one great-great-aunt shot her husband dead thinking he was a burglar; about how another aunt had her hat fused to her head during a lightning storm; and about how Dawson’s own mother, a blond-haired siren, drove a married man so insane that he stole an Air Force plane and buzzed their house. So naturally, Dawson caught the storytelling bug, and the various jobs she worked over the years—as a substitute English teacher, department-store clerk, medical-records typist, waitress, cat sitter, nanny, electrocardiogram technician—were bearable only because she could make up stories as she worked. These stories blossomed into ideas for her first four novels—The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World, and A Piece of Normal—which were praised as “illuminating,” “triumphant,” “tender,” “poignant,” and “lyrical,” and launched Dawson’s career as a bestselling novelist.
Dawson’s master storytelling skills are on fine display in her fifth novel THE SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS (Lake Union Publishing; on-sale October 25, 2016), which tells of Nina Popkin, who is newly orphaned, recently divorced, and on the hunt for her birth mother. Nina has spent her entire life wondering about her biological family and, at 35, she is ready for answers. When her search reveals a family that is nothing like the one she always imagined, and when she finds herself unexpectedly falling in love with a divorced father-of-two, Nina must reconfigure her long-held beliefs about love and the ties that bind. THE SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS is a transcendent, endearing meditation about family: the one we are born with, and the one we create for ourselves.