After losing her husband, John, Lauren Blessing and her two young children come to rely heavily on her husband's large, close-knit, Irish-Catholic family amidst all their moods, triumphs, and trials. - (Baker & Taylor)
After losing her husband, John, Lauren Blessing and her two young children come to rely heavily on her husband's large, close-knit, Irish-Catholic family amidst all their moods, triumphs and trials. 75,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
"Bursting with wise observations."
-J. Courtney Sullivan, author of The Engagements and Maine
"Gleams like a jewel."
-The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Stunning. . . Unique and unforgettable."
Hailed by Stewart O'Nan as "deft and tender" and as one of the best books of 2014 by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Elise Juska's THE BLESSINGS is an extraordinary novel about an ordinary family. The Blessings rally around one another in times of celebration and those of sorrow, coming together for departures and arrivals, while its members harbor private struggles and moments of personal joy. College student Abby ponders homesickness in her first semester away from her Philadelphia home, while her cousin Stephen commits a petty act of violence that takes a surprising turn, and their aunt Lauren faces a crisis in her storybook marriage she could never have foreseen. Through the lens of one unforgettable family, this beautifully moving novel explores how our families define us and how we shape them in return.
- (Grand Central Pub
The Blessings are a large, close-knit Irish Catholic family. Living within a short radius of Philadelphia, all four generations of the Blessing clan gather together for every life event, no matter how big or small. When young John Blessing is taken by a fast-progressing cancer, the family comes together as always, offering physical and emotional support to John's widow and two young children. The years go by, and new trials are faced, from medical emergencies to children leaving for college, but the shock waves of losing John reverberate through the family for many years to come. With each chapter, Juska takes readers into the life of a different family member, honoring the individuality that blossoms even amid the strong bonds of a family's deep love. She draws intimate and detailed sketches of each of these characters, but the ultimate portrait is of the Blessing family as a whole. This heartfelt tribute to the ups and downs of a large, devoted family is warm, uplifting, and recommended for readers from families of all sizes. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
This family saga explores the ups and downs of a close-knit extended Irish American clan in Philadelphia over a couple of decades. Like so many people, the Blessings discover that life often doesn't turn out to be what they had hoped. Among their trials are unhappy marriages, divorce, and teenagers who go badly off the rails. Most poignantly, the novel centers on the death of John Blessing, a young husband and father, and the effect this tragedy has on his widow, children, and entire family. In the wrong hands, a family story such as this could be either too sentimental or too much of a soap opera, but we are in good hands with award-winning short story author Juska. She is a shrewd observer of human nature and has an outstanding ability to bring her characters to life on the page. The author's wise decision to focus on a different relative in each chapter also makes the novel stand out. VERDICT This wonderfully readable work about family life will have you eagerly turning pages to find out what happens to characters about whom you really care. [See Prepub Alert, 11/18/13.]—Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA
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