Thursday, March 27, 2014

Real Happy Family by Caeli Wolfson Widger

Good morning, everyone. Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Caeli Wolfson Widger's debut,  Real Happy Family!

Lorelei Branch has always wanted to be a big star. After an HPV vaccine ad and a few other small placements, she thought she was finally on her way when she made it through to the big finale of Flo's Studio's live casting pick. But when Lorelei is passed over, disaster strikes - in the form of her mother Colleen. 

Now Lorelei isn't speaking to Colleen. In fact, Lorelei has run off to Reno with her boyfriend, Don, her mother's credit card, and a stash of meth. To get her through the day Colleen has a cocktail of pills and booze, all of which she hides from her husband, Carl. But then Colleen gets an idea, a way to hopefully earn Lorelei's forgiveness while also putting her back in the spotlight. 

Meanwhile, Lorelei's brother and his wife have their own struggles. They've been trying to conceive and after a visit to a highly sought after specialist, their plan is in place. Until Darren is offered a job on a set in Florida. And this job would finally mean earning recognition in the industry as well as earning the respect of his in-laws. Robin reluctantly agrees but having her husband so far away while undergoing hormone treatments is definitely not ideal. 

Whew. That's a lot of info to sum up. Caeli Wolfson Widger's Branches are crazypants. It's kind of hard to sympathize much with Lorelei and Colleen considering their situations are pretty much born of their own bad choices and stubbornness. Robin and Darren on the other hand are probably the most likable ones of the bunch. (Carl gets some facetime but he's still mostly in the background throughout the book.) All in all, though, reading Real Happy Family is like watching a train wreck. I was intrigued, especially by the hints of the occurrence on Flo's Studio, but I don't know that I really enjoyed most of the story.

I will say this, all of the ridiculousness of reality tv is spot on! I'm not a fan of reality tv for exactly the reasons Real Happy Family portrays. And while we've had some small brushes with the Hollywood industry, the stage mom and the Hollywood lifestyle are still things I'll never be able to understand. While the author is clearly poking fun at it, it's all kind of exactly the way she lays it out here. In fact, I've heard much crazier beyond the glimpse she gives us into that life.

I'm a little on the fence. Lots of Real Happy Family is amusing, in a tragicomic sort of way (you know, if you like to see characters ride the meth bus to disaster and you want to see families fall apart). It's a quick read as well, I finished it in one afternoon. It didn't quite reach the oddball hilarity of similar reads (Wonder Bread Summer) and while I'm all for unlikable characters, in cases like this one it doesn't work in the book's favor.

Rating: 3/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to visit the official TLC tour page here. For more on Caeli Wolfson Widger you can follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for being a part of the tour.