Multi-generational Portraits of Family: Background information when reading The Blessings

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The Blessings

by Elise Juska

The Blessings by Elise Juska X
The Blessings by Elise Juska
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  • First Published:
    May 2014, 272 pages

    May 2015, 272 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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About this Book

Multi-generational Portraits of Family

This article relates to The Blessings

Print Review

The Blessings is a novel, but it's also a portrait —an ensemble in which assorted members of three generations reveal various complexities and challenges. Here is a handful of other books that also offer multi-generational stories about family.

Charming Billy Charming Billy by Alice McDermott won the National Book Award in 1998. It opens at the funeral of Billy Lynch, a working-class Irishman and hopeless drunk. The story of Billy's life and death is revealed slowly, through the lives of the friends and families who knew him best. Narrated by Billy's cousin Dennis's daughter, who professes detachment but gradually becomes emotionally involved, McDermott's masterpiece is a complex portrayal of an individual and family's ambiguities.

The End of the Point The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver is as much a portrait of a place—an insular community of summer people on Cape Cod—as it is a portrayal of a family. The novel traces the wealthy Porters' time on the Point from the 1940s to the late 1990s, revealing issues of class difference, generational tensions, and environmental pressure along the way. Graver shows the reader a sheltered place ostensibly protected from current events - but ultimately buffeted by their effects - both directly and through the lives of the people who populate the Point year after year.

Palisades Park Palisades Park by Alan Brennert narrates the story of a very particular kind of family, one that evolves in parallel with the New Jersey amusement park of the novel's title. Extending from the early 1920s until the 1970s, Brennert's novel describes one small unit - young carnival concessionaire Eddie Strepka, his wife and daredevil daughter - but it also shows how the amusement park's eccentric staff serves as a kind of family for all the misfits and dreamers who call the park home.

Check out BookBrowse's "Generational and Family Sagas" theme to explore more in this vibrant category.

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Article by Norah Piehl

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Blessings. It originally ran in May 2014 and has been updated for the May 2015 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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