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Happy Family

Lee Boudreaux Books, May 2016

In Tracy Barone’s mordantly funny debut, a fiercely independent woman is forced to come to terms with the family who raised her, the one who gave her away and the one she so desperately wants.

Trenton, New Jersey, 1962: A pregnant girl staggers into a health clinic, gives birth, and flees. A foster family takes the baby in, and an unlikely couple, their lives unspooling from a recent tragedy hastily adopts her.

Forty years and many secrets and lies later, Cheri Matzner is all grown up and falling apart. Ironic and unapologetic, she’s a former cop-turned-disgruntled academic, a frustrated wife trying to get pregnant, an iconoclastic daughter bearing war-wounds from her overbearing mother and the deeply flawed but well-meaning father who has been dead for several years. Thrust into an odyssey of acceptance, Cheri discovers that sometimes it takes half a lifetime to come of age.

Written with a deep emotional intelligence and a biting wit, HAPPY FAMILY weaves together the stories of the beautifully damaged people who have shaped Cheri’s life – often in ways she has yet to discover. Asking if we can ever really know our parents outside their roles as our parents, Barone brilliantly explores the often vast divide between our beliefs about our families and the truth.



Picked as one of the “Best books of the Month” by Amazon editors

  • “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.


  • “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.”
    — Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author All the Stars in the Heavens.


  • “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 THE MOTHERS: A Novel.


  • “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, New York Times bestselling author of THE RUMOR.


  • “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