The Blessings

Elise Juska, Author
Elise Juska. Grand Central, $24 (272p) ISBN 978-1-455-57403-2
Reviewed on: 02/10/2014
Release date: 05/06/2014
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Several generations of the Blessings, a Philadelphia-based, Irish-American family, come beautifully to life in a deceptively simple tale that examines the foibles, disappointments and passions that tie family members together. Juska (One for Sorrow, Two for Joy) traces the trajectory of several family members’ lives over a 15-year period, starting with college student Abby, who comes to understand her family’s supportive and close-knit nature only after leaving for college. The novel goes on to introduce the other Blessings, including Abby’s siblings, Alex and Meghan; her parents, Ann and Dave; and many cousins, aunts, and uncles. The author brings a depth of understanding to the human condition, including in her descriptions of Abby’s cousin Stephen, on the road to becoming a ne’er-do-well; her uncle Patrick, a successful eye doctor, contemplating infidelity; and Meghan coming to terms with her eating disorder. Abby’s grandmother Helen’s dementia is among the more difficult family issues raised. Despite these challenges, the Blessings rally round each other—whether that attention is wanted or not—and the reader leaves feeling lucky to have spent some time in their presence. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (May)
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