One of our recommended books is Perfect Happiness by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

PERFECT HAPPINESS

A Novel


Charlotte McGanley knows happiness. Just ask anyone who’s read Perfect Happiness, her bestselling book about how she, a busy mother and professor, used her no-nonsense positive psychology research to brighten her own life. She always pictured her career beginning and ending in the halls of academia, but now she’s become a bit of a self-help guru. No one is more surprised by this than Charlotte herself, who has secretly never been more miserable.

Though her husband of many years, Jason, is her partner in all things, she finds more gratification most evenings in a glass (or three) of Chardonnay or another scroll through her Instagram feed.

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Charlotte McGanley knows happiness. Just ask anyone who’s read Perfect Happiness, her bestselling book about how she, a busy mother and professor, used her no-nonsense positive psychology research to brighten her own life. She always pictured her career beginning and ending in the halls of academia, but now she’s become a bit of a self-help guru. No one is more surprised by this than Charlotte herself, who has secretly never been more miserable.

Though her husband of many years, Jason, is her partner in all things, she finds more gratification most evenings in a glass (or three) of Chardonnay or another scroll through her Instagram feed. Meanwhile, their daughter, Birdie, is feeling the pressure of being her high school’s star tennis player, keeping up her GPA, and having her first boyfriend—and Charlotte, despite all her expertise, has no idea how to help her.

As Charlotte preaches the gospel of happiness to her undergraduate students, audiences across the country, and her own online followers, she’s faced with some tough questions: What is happiness when the family you’ve nurtured starts to fall apart in front of your eyes? When your daughter seems determined to self-destruct? When the man you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with—and took for granted because of it—gets fed up? When all of the tools that you push to your loyal followers just don’t seem to work?

In this bittersweet family love story, Kristyn Kusek Lewis explores how easy it is to lose connection with the people closest to us, and what happens when we try to find our way back.

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  • Harper Paperbacks
  • Paperback
  • June 2020
  • 352 Pages
  • 9780062966636

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$16.99

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About Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Kristyn Kusek Lewis is the author of Perfect Happiness, credit Magin UrdanickKristyn Kusek Lewis is the author of Half of What You Hear (Harper Paperbacks, 2019), Save Me (Grand Central, 2014) and How Lucky You Are (Grand Central, 2012). A former magazine editor, Kristyn has been writing for national publications for nearly twenty years and regularly writes the “Books” column for Real Simple magazine. Kristyn is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she earned an MFA in creative writing. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her family.

Praise

“This new novel asks tough questions about family and explores what happens when you try to re-connect with the ones you love most.” — SheReads, “The best beach books of summer 2020”

“In Kristyn Kusek Lewis’s Perfect Happiness, Charlotte McGanley has two sides: the happiness guru with the perfectly curated Instagram profile; and the struggling wife and mother, whose life is crumbling under the pressure. In this timely novel, Lewis deftly explores the price we pay when our outer self doesn’t match our inner one. Insightful and relatable, this book proves our flaws don’t need to define us, and that happiness is always within reach.” — Karma Brown, bestselling author of Recipe for a Perfect Wife

“Kristyn Kusek Lewis nails this modern family story about a deeply unhappy happiness guru whose Instagram feed is at odds with her inner turmoil. I feel like I made an instant friend in the character of Charlotte McGanley and I cringed right alongside her with every failure, misstep and unnecessary glass of wine. The pressures and situations in PERFECT HAPPINESS are thoroughly of this time and place, but the pleasures and satisfaction of watching a family stumble and try to right themselves remain timeless.” — Meg Mitchell Moore, author of The Islanders and Two Truths and a Lie

“Lewis writes engagingly and empathically, and the supporting cast of relatable characters will keep readers absorbed as Charlotte works toward a new kind of happiness.” Booklist

Discussion Questions

1. What role does social media play in Charlotte’s life? In your opinion, do the pros outweigh the cons? Do you use social media, and if so, is the impact of it on your life more positive or negative?

2. Kusek Lewis gives us a window onto Charlotte and Jason’s marriage that includes both of their perspectives. Why do you think she chose to do this? Which character do you sympathize with more?

3. Have you ever read a book about happiness? What was the best advice you’ve heard about happiness?

4. Charlotte’s academic view on happiness is “act first, feelings later.” Do you agree with her?

5. Do you think it’s ever advisable for a parent to discourage their teenager’s romantic relationships or friendships? Could Charlotte have said anything to influence Birdie’s opinion of Tucker?

6. By leaving her Southern hometown, do you think Charlotte able to escape one set of expectations for her life? Does she have another set of expectations in DC? Where do her biggest pressures come from?

7. Do you believe that Charlotte ever seriously considers rekindling her relationship with Reese? What does he represent to her? What about Jason and Jamie?

8. If either Jason or Charlotte chose to move forward with their extramarital relationships, do you believe that the other would have followed suit? Why or why not?

9. What are your thoughts about how Charlotte uses alcohol to cope with day-to-day stress? Have you ever turned to something unhealthy to cope with a problem?

10. What do you think is next for Charlotte, Jason, and Birdie?

11. Should happiness be our primary goal in life? What are some other goals you have for yourself and/or your family?