Tuesday, March 11, 2014

G277 Book Review of Real Happy Family by Caeli Wolfson Widger

Name of Book: Real Happy Family

Author: Caeli Wolfson Widger

ISBN: 978-0-544-26361-1

Publisher: New Harvest

Type of book: Reality TV, fame, California, marriage, thwarted dreams, wanting to be pregnant, chances, movie, infamy, drugs, mother/daughter duo, husband/wife duo

Year it was published: 2014


Part-time actress, full-time party girl Lorelei Branch isn’t famous yet, but she’s perfected a Hollywood lifestyle full of clubbing, fashion, and the latest juice cleanse. When Robin, her sister-in-law and agent, throws a plum job her way, Lorelei jumps at the chance and auditions to be the new girl on television’s hottest reality show, Flo’s Studio. Enter Colleen, Lorelei’s pill-popping mother, who wants nothing more than to see her daughter win the fame and glory she never had a chance to pursue herself. But Lorelei’s dream of becoming the next reality star is dashed when she loses the spot on Flo’s Studio to a stunning African woman. In an attempt to defend her daughter against what she calls a rigged contest, Colleen goes ballistic and delivers a racist rant on live television, sparking a national media frenzy. Lorelei flees the limelight, humiliated and broke, with her slacker boyfriend Don and heads for Reno where she begins to self-destruct.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Branch family starts to come apart at the seams. Colleen and her husband, Carl, are quietly drifting apart. Darren, Lorelei’s older half-brother, is stuck in Florida working on a contentious film set while his wife, Robin, continues the tedious regimen of fertility drugs meant to help them conceive a child. Desperate to bring the family together again and make things right, Colleen hatches a plan to stage an intervention for Lorelei on the reality show Real Happy Family. Soon the entire Branch family is entangled in a mission to bring the prodigal daughter back into the fold.

Will Lorelei ever forgive Colleen? Will Real Happy Family air their most sensational intervention yet? All roads lead to a seedy Reno hotel room, where a reality TV crew is waiting.


For me personally the characters are all interesting and multifaceted; first there is Lorelei the daughter, a talented redhead with a powerful mom-manager by her side. I would guess people underestimate her a lot, and she does tend to fly to pieces when things don't go well. She isn't confrontational and doesn't really acknowledge her own emotions. Following Lorelei is Colleen, a woman who's in denial that she's aging and does whatever she can to look young. She had dreams that were thwarted and isn't very happy with her lot in life. Most of the book is focused on Colleen. Let's also not forget Darren and his wife Robin. Darren is Colleen's stepson who is talented but isn't good at being resourceful. He is very devoted to Robin. Robin is both Lorelei's agent and Darren's wife. She has parental issues when it comes to abandonment and has a successful company called No Princess. There is also Carl, Lorelei's and Darren's father who wants the best he can for Colleen, but somehow he's not enough for her.


I'm honestly not sure what the lesson might be, but one is that reality TV is very addictive.


The book is written in third person narrative from everyone's point of view. Just like reality TV show, I got addicted to the book, wanting to see what will happen next. I often wonder about the title, and can't help but think this is supposed to be satire or else making fun of today's culture with likable and understandable characters. I wasn't very confused as to who was speaking because for the most part the chapters are short and each chapter includes one point of view. Towards the end there is some unevenness and there are more questions than answers left.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

Caeli Wolfson Widger received her MFA in poetry from the University of Montana. Her work has appeared in Another Chicago Magazine and The Madison Review.
Follow Caeli on Twitter and Goodreads.


When I was given the opportunity to review this book, I was warned that this is something reality TV audience will enjoy. Yes, I did enjoy reading it, but I wonder if this is sort of a reality TV satire methinks? The writing and reading is very addictive as well as simple and easy. I also enjoyed the characters and was impressed that the author pulled everyone as multifaceted instead of simple protagonists vs antagonists. The ending was a bit confusing, and I do wonder if it was in response to reality TV endings where there is "hea" without any explanations or falling action? However,  if you are looking for something to relax to where you don't have to think or remember, and you are tired and exhausted from reading what I call "heavy" books, then by all means pick this up and enjoy the ride.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Caeli Wolfson Widger’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, March 3rd:  Sarah’s Book Shelves
Tuesday, March 4th:  A  Bookish Affair
Wednesday, March 5th:  Being 5
Friday, March 7th:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, March 10th:  Words for Worms
Tuesday, March 11th:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, March 13th:  Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Tuesday, March 18th:  Seaside Book Nook
Wednesday, March 19th:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, March 20th:  A Chick Who Reads
Monday, March 24th:  Literally Jen
Tuesday, March 25th:  Mom in Love with Fiction
Wednesday, March 26th:  missris
Thursday, March 27th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, March 28th:  Books a la Mode – Guest Post & Giveaway
Monday, March 31st:  The 3 R’s Blog
Wednesday, April 2nd:  Great Imaginations
Wednesday, April 2nd:  Books and Bindings
Friday, April 4th:  From the TBR Pile
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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