Reviews of The Juggler’s Children

FINALIST 2013 – Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction
FINALIST 2014 – BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction
LONGLISTED 2014 – RBC Taylor Prize

“Carolyn Abraham’s stunner of a book about tracing her family’s history through DNA analysis… The Juggler’s Children is many things, each one spellbinding: a thrillerish quest for origins, a continent-spanning travelogue and an eye-opening foray into the annals and ethics of genetic science.” Read full review

Emily Donaldson, reviewer for The Globe and Mail, April 2013

“The Juggler’s Children is a perfect match of memoir and journalism. The personal story happens to be the very subject of the investigation, and the memoir benefits from a larger context. Abraham writes with ease and humour, undaunted by complexity, and the narrative unfolds like a detective story.”

Susan Crean, Literary Review of Canada, April 2013

“Carolyn’s family history turns out to be quite romantic and mysterious. You will learn about DNA testing (but not in a dry way), and some history of India, China, Jamaica and England. Even though it’s non-fiction, this book is written like a fluent, page-turning, exotic novel.” Read full review and hear radio interview

Justine Lewkowicz, CFRB Radio

“With an irreverent sense of humour and the smarts of an experienced medical-science journalist, Abraham describes how questions about her ancestry had gnawed at her since childhood, when she was “a brown girl with a Jewish last name who went to the Catholic school”…And what her genes wind up revealing—about not only her own background but everyone else’s—is richer than any tall family tale.” Read full review

Bryan Lynch,, March 2013

“Indeed, DNA can provide a window into where you might come from, but it takes a lot more than genetics to define who you are. The Juggler’s Children is a fascinating tale of truth, lies, perception and, ultimately, family.” Read full review

Deborah Bowers, Winnipeg Free Press, April 2013

“Abraham is a skilled writer who blends the personal narrative and scientific writing flawlessly, making this book accessible to all who read it.  It will definitely have you wondering about the stories behind your family and the ties that connect us throughout the world.” Read full review

Shan, Curled Up With a Good Book and a Cup of Tea! Blog

“It is, by turns, a detective story, a primer on the science of the human genome, and a revealing family portrait. Abraham’s willingness to transparently document the entire process, with all its failures and red herrings, makes for a visceral, almost voyeuristic read…This highly personal story not only entertains and informs, it forces us to ask ourselves some very basic and universal questions about the nature of identity.” Read full review

Jan Dutkiewicz, Quill & Quire, March 2013

“I had to remind myself from time to time that this is not a work of fiction, Carolyn Abraham proves to be a very gifted storyteller. Informative on genealogy and genetics (due to the human need of wanting not to be so lonely; while finding unexpected roots around the globe) “The Juggler’s Children” is also peppered with history information of the diverse places that the author’s ancestors come from – India, Jamaica, China. At times humorous or sentimental, the search for the Juggler and the Captain grandfathers and their origins makes for a very entertaining read.”

From a review by avid book reader Danusia @

“Wow. I loved The Juggler’s Children by Carolyn Abraham.I must say that the reason this book is so great is because Abraham is a wonderful storyteller. Normally, listening to someone go on about the ins and outs of their family history can be a little on the dull side – especially when it gets into DNA testing. But someone how Abraham has managed to weave the most captivating story out of this. Her turns of phrase are remarkable and with every page and chapter of this genealogical caper I wanted to read more. When it came to explaining the intricacies of DNA testing, Abraham makes that interesting and understandable.” Read full review

Tanya Boughtflower

52 Weeks or Bust

“Abraham’s research involved more than scraping buccal cells off the inside of her cheek — and those of her relatives — and sending the cells to a lab for testing. She also travelled, with her husband and other family members, as far away as India and Jamaica, where she did interviews and examined records. Though this book is built around science, it’s the personal experiences and relationships Abraham describes that will remain with readers.” Read full review

Monique Polak, Montreal Gazette, April 2013

“The Juggler’s Children is exciting, often funny and moving. It also raises important questions about the ethical dangers of widespread genetic testing — of the attitude that “if we have the know-how, we have the right to know”— and about the implications of digging up human remains to satisfy scientific curiosity or simply to identify a possible relative.”

Read full review (it’s the second one on the page)

Nick Walker, Canadian Geographic, April 2013