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Fiction Family Life

Every Happy Family

by (author) Dede Crane

Coteau Books
Initial publish date
Apr 2013
Family Life
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2013
    List Price

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A family is only as functional as its parts. Humorous and heartbreaking, wise and demented, Every Happy Family explores the colourful n and sometimes repurposed n fabric of the Wright family. The stories mark turning points in the lives of the individual family members, as well as in their relationships with each other. Married parents Jill and Les are the warp of the Wright family tapestry n Jill beginning to lose her mother to Alzheimer's, Les diagnosed with a cancer he initially keeps secret from their children. Each family member's thread unravels from the others, as older son Quinn finds a dangerous way to combat shyness, younger son Beau seeks success and closure at boarding school, and adopted daughter Pema explores her roots. But past and present weave back together and towards the future, as everyone is called home for Les's elife celebration' n his eliving wake'. Alone and together, the Wrights crash along, unable to give up on themselves or each otherOhard as they might try.

About the author

Dede Crane is the author of the literary novel Sympathy, which was a finalist for the Victoria Butler Book Prize. She has also published the teen novel, The 25 Pains of Kennedy Baines. Her first published story, “Seers,” appeared in Grain magazine and was short listed for the CBC Literary Award; she has since been published in numerous literary journals. Dede has also co-edited, with author Lisa Moore, a collection of non-fiction stories about the experience of giving birth. She is currently working on a second teen novel, Poster Boy. A former professional ballet dancer and choreographer, Dede Crane has studied Buddhist psychology and psychokinetics at Naropa Institute in Colorado and the Body-Mind Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts. She currently calls Victoria, B.C. home.

Dede Crane's profile page

User Reviews

Every Happy Family

On Sunday mornings, Jill makes a large pot of coffee, calls her mother, and contemplates the change and stress that have crept into the household unnoticed. It’s clear that the Wrights are at some sort of turning point; the days of Jill, Les and their three kids living peacefully under the same roof are coming to an end. Les and his sister are focused on finding their birth mother, Quinn is despondent after a breakup with his first serious girlfriend, and Beau desperately wants to spend his last two years of high school away from home. Then Jill receives a letter from Pema’s Tibetan birth mother, explaining that her situation is finally stable enough to invite Pema to join them at home in Nepal. And when she calls her mother to talk about this last problem, she discovers that her mother is taking in unsuitable boarders and is growing fuzzy about practical details. Jill finds it all overwhelming, and for the first time, she will be required to sit back and watch her family handle their personal crises without her guiding hand.

Every Happy Family follows Jill, Les, Quinn, Beau and Pema as they respond to their issues and live with the consequences. Tolstoy once observed that happy families are all alike, and that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Refelctive and engaging, Crane explores individual unhappinesses in a largely functional, happy suburban family, focusing particularly on the conflicting needs of freedom and belonging. This work will strongly appeal to readers of Alice Munro, Sandra Birdsell, and David Bergen.

A copy of this review appears on my blog at

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