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Happy Family Hardcover – May 24, 2016
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"Tracy Barone's Happy Family introduces a storyteller whose narrative confidence and style both dares and invites us into a deep exploration of the gap between our expectations and beliefs about our families and the truth. Filled with intimate poignancy, deft humor and pitch-perfect dialogue this books fulfills its ambitious scope and leaves an indelible mark."―A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven
"Smart, witty and immensely readable, HAPPY FAMILY brilliantly examines the power of family and the secrets we keep, and leaves us cheering for its heroine, Cheri-funny, fierce, aching for connection but independent to a fault-whose mid-life coming-of-age is wise, heartfelt, and a pure page-turning pleasure to read."―Maria Semple, author of national bestseller Where'd You Go, Bernadette
"In her debut novel, screenwriter, playwright, and film producer Barone uses a wide lens to capture Cheri Matzner's life, from a precarious beginning to a confident, peaceful middle age... Cinematic in its scope, this novel takes readers on a broad, deep, and poignant journey alongside a tough, admirable woman and the varied characters who populate her life."―Kirkus
"It's not often that I stumble across a novel as smart, as tender, and as exquisitely rendered as HAPPY FAMILY. Tracy Barone treats the subject in a completely refreshing and original way -- and how is that even possible? This book Blew. Me. Away."―Elin Hilderbrand, author of THE RUMOR
"Tracy Barone's debut novel is whip smart and warm hearted. Big and bold, Happy Family pulls back the tough skin and muscle of family life exposing the blood and secrets beneath. An utterly engrossing read."―Jennifer Gilmore, author of Golden Country and Something Red
"Tracy Barone is a storyteller with a deft, effortless style that grabs you, holds you, and at turns, leaves you breathless. Her characters are so distinctive, so deeply humane and complex, their humor, intelligence and place in the world is immediately apparent. The novel folds out like one of those hand-painted screens that separates one room from another, but in this case, there was nothing hidden behind, all secrets were revealed, as the author took you by the hand through the life of Cheri Matzner. Even her name is exactly right: red hot, ripe and in her perfection, unreachable."―Adriani Trigiani, bestselling author All the Stars in the Heavens
"Barone's debut novel explores the pursuit of human connection with pathos and humor... Cheri is a compelling protagonist, making her journey into the past well worth following."―Publishers Weekly
"A funny, touching tale about growing up--at any age."
"Cheri Maztner is interesting company...Barone has a background in writing for screen and stage, and knows how to propel a story at an engaging clip. Indeed, the pace and structure of this novel suggest a movie-in-waiting."
―New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Tracy Barone earned her MFA in dramatic writing at NYU and has worked as a screenwriter and playwright. She has worked in Hollywood, where she was the Executive Producer on Wild, Wild, West, Rosewood, My Fellow Americans, and Money Train and was instrumental in the acquisition and development of Men in Black and Ali. In addition to an MFA, Barone holds a B.A. from NYU.
Top customer reviews
Excellent! Stupendous! Bravo! Merci! Where do I begin? Ok. Maybe I am swayed by the fact I live in Chicago, and was adopted. This is what drew me to this new found author of mine, which happens to have a new release. The synopsis pulled me in so quick I paid full price for the book. This book interlocked faultless and blameless characters. Each individualized in a fantastic storyline, leaving the reader agonizing over strenuous and spectacular events. The phenomenal persistence of Cheri has her maintaining inspirational persistence. Sol and CiCi have wisdom and imperfections. The immense radiance of the plot entices the reader, creating uncertainty, interlocking each character together. The profound changes leave an outstanding outcome. I devoured this book along with resemblance to my life. I intentionally did not summarize or give spoilers. The immense strength of the book holds power, to pull in readers. The gracious author was sweet to correspond with me and my delight. Not only did she write a killer book, executive-produced favorite TV show Rosewood. One talented lady! When is the next book? I anticipate more binge reading, and addition to my Library of favorite authors. I give this book 5+ stars. Fantastic!
The story is driven by a collection of beautifully developed, believable characters, all of whom I came to love. Each one was so real that I occasionally found myself giving them unsolicited advice through the screen of my Kindle. Conjuring up a person in one's mind and creating a realistic life on paper is not only a unique skill, but also an art, usually accomplished only by selected experienced writers. Tracy Barone achieved in her first book what many writers never get quite right.
I have read countless stories centered around adoption, and Happy Family is my new favorite. Sol and Cici Matzner, the adoptive parents of an infant girl, make an unusual and often hilarious couple. The marriage of a Jewish doctor to a beautiful Italian, Catholic child bride, almost unheard of in the 1950s, wreaks havoc on the newlyweds' families. Sol converts to Catholicism in a futile attempt to assuage Cici's family, but he is disowned by the Matzner clan. How ironic that Cici becomes the stereotypical Jewish mother! They name their daughter Cheri, dropping the 'e' from their favorite term of endearment.
Through Cheri, the reader learns of her life through her first forty years. Everything she does thwarts Cici's plans. She is a complex character as she comes of age. From hippie to the NYPD to an expert in an arcane field, she is fiercely independent even after she marries.
The writing of this fast-paced story is close to flawless. The narrative is filled with biting wit, especially with regard to Cici. Despite all her years in America, she still butchers the English language, resulting in countless malaprops. Again Tracy Barone excels where many fail. Rather than sounding forced or demeaning, Cici's attempts are natural and often hilarious. She is the ultimate helicopter parent to a daughter who wants little to do with her family.
I already miss the Matzner family and recommend this book to everyone who wants to meet them.