The Blessings

Selected for Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers series • Entertainment Weekly's "Must List" • Huffington Post's "Ten Best Beach Reads" • Glamour's "10 Best Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List Right This Second" • The Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of 2014

"A family so real in all their sorrow, joy and complexity that they could be yours or mine ... bursting with wise observations about the nature of love and belonging."
—J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times-bestselling author of The Engagements and Maine


“[A] bighearted novel... Juska's moving, multifaceted portrait of the Blessing family gleams like a jewel.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“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... 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... 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.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Fans of writers like Anne Tyler, Alice McDermott and even Richard Yates will revel in Juska’s resplendent novel detailing two decades in the life of the Blessing clan.”

“A stunning wide-angle snapshot of the Blessing family of Northeast Philadelphia... [t]hey could be any family—and yet, in Juska's capable hands, they're unique and unforgettable.”

“This family can feel so real, the prose almost aches.”
—Philadelphia City Paper

“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... this wonderfully readable work about family life will have you eagerly turning pages.”
—Library Journal

“It takes a writer with voice and depth to tell the story of a large Irish Catholic family's travails and make it feel fresh. Elise Juska succeeds with this novel set in Northeast Philly, as the ripple effects of one man's death flow through the lives of those left behind.”
—Philadelphia Magazine

“The struggles will be familiar, but it is the ordinary details that define the Blessings. The pickles wrapped in ham, well-worn seats in front of the TV, Mass at St. Bonaventure's and casserole dishes provide a predictable backdrop to the unexpected - making the unexpected that much sharper.”
—Portland Press Herald

“There’s a certain kind of belonging that comes with being part of a large, extended Irish-American family. But, there’s a certain kind of loneliness, too. In The Blessings, Elise Juska captures how those mirror emotions of homesickness and restlessness, intimacy and secret-keeping, continuously send generations of the Blessing family beyond the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood they call home, and then pull them back in again... Juska’s emotionally resonant storytelling will remain with you long after turning the last page.”
—Irish America


“There's no shortage of novels about the quirks and tragedies of large families, but The Blessings is a uniquely poignant, prismatic look at an Irish-Catholic clan as it rallies after losing one of its own.”
Entertainment Weekly

“In the tradition of Elizabeth Berg's and Alice McDermott's work, The Blessings is a knowing portrait of a sprawling Irish-American family in Philly, in all their shared strength and separate weaknesses. Elise Juska is deft and tender, letting us get close to her characters in their most vulnerable moments. The ties that bind are never simple, and often painful, but as one daughter acknowledges, 'these are the hidden intimacies, the private exchanges, on which she builds her life.”
—Stewart O'Nan, author of Songs for the Missing and Emily, Alone

“With a keen eye for detail and character, Juska shows us that, Tolstoy notwithstanding, a happy family can be happy in its own way and make for great storytelling... An exquisite portrait of a large family.”
—Shelf Awareness

“Takes us into the heart of one of Philadelphia's large Irish-Catholic families . . . the storytelling is confident and Juska writes movingly about the emotional life of individuals within a close social unit.”
—The Toronto Star

“Throughout the novel, right up until the affecting final scene, Juska explores the paradox of family—how it is the thing that both stifles and sustains you, how it can be simultaneously predictable and unexpected, stable and fragile... the result is the best kind of family portrait—one in which you know each member's foibles and flaws and yet love them anyway.”
—BookBrowse, Editor's Choice

“With a sharp and generous eye, Elise Juska charts the duality of family life in The Blessings. Each exquisitely layered story builds on top of the other, leaving the reader with a lasting portrait of what it means to be a part of a family in today's fractured world.”
—Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone

“Juska’s story is like leafing through an old family photo album... [t]he author has created an ordinary fictitious family and stitched together a multilayered, sympathetic account of its members' lives.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Beautifully crafted... Juska draws the characters so fully, with thoughts and feelings so real, the reader can't help but become emotionally invested.”
—All You

“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.”