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The Juggler's Children: A Journey into Family, Legend and the Genes that Bind Us Hardcover – Mar 26 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada; 1st Edition edition (March 26 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679314598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679314592
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.8 x 4.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 599 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. B. Roose on April 29 2013
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This is a fantastic read from several viewpoints. First, it is well worth understanding the beginning history of the use of genetics for genealogy, a history not recounted as well elsewhere. The development of how to use and follow one's family through the use of DNA is well developed and enlightening. Finally, the story of the family in all its glory is wonderfully told. I look forward to the sequel - the rest of the story - because there are still some pieces to find. An excellent book to share with someone who has doubts about whether DNA is useful for following family history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Helen on April 26 2013
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The Juggler's Children is about the Canadian author's "dance between DNA and documentary evidence, science and paper" as she sets out to uncover the mysterious origins of two of her great-grandfathers, one of whom she inherited her surname from ("the juggler"). At the beginning of the book there are two family tree charts, one for the descendants of each of these great-grandfathers who married and fathered children in India but originally came from somewhere else (China and Jamaica, probably). In hindsight I should have drawn another family tree chart for the Crooks family in Jamaica as I read what her research uncovered there, as it was not so easy keeping up with the Crookses, but I was in too much of a hurry to find out what happened next. I guess it could not have been included in the book without giving too much of the story away.

Even though my 100% European ancestry is not nearly as interesting as the author's, I can identify with so much of what she wrote having similar family mysteries of my own to solve. Regardless, I am a sucker for a good detective story. I also learnt some history, geography and science in the process.

The book would also be a good primer for a "genetic virgin". It discusses genetic genealogy in layman's terms and illustrates the various pitfalls of genetic testing and analysis via the author's personal story. Her experiences demonstrate the limitations of both science and paper, and hence the value of using both to corroborate each other. Abraham is a science writer and wove various milestones in genetics and genetic genealogy into her story. However, science has already progressed somewhat since the Abraham family undertook genetic testing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alongtimecook on May 25 2013
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The author is a science writer and as a child in Ontario became curious as to where her brown skin came from. Her parents had come to Canada from the U.K. but Carolyn knew India was somehow mixed up in the story. After the birth of her daughter Jade, she is determined to find out about the new DNA testing that has recently become available. She decides to examine her very mixed background through DNA. She begins with her parents and works backwards. As she researches the story of both sides of the family, she finds out she had some ancestors no-one would be proud of. The book is at once a warm family story and on the other side, the science gives the layman a basic understanding of the new science of DNA and the histories it can tell. I loved this book - the most fascinating I have read in a long time - and you will love it too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anne Sterling on Sept. 29 2013
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This book flows well, the sentence structure is creative and the word pictures are imaginative. I felt motivated to read many pages at once, but I could also pick it up whenever I felt like " a bit more of a read." Initially I borrowed, The Juggler's Children from the library, but was frustrated when It was not my own copy; I wanted to underline pertinent sentences and to read it a second time. Carolyn Abraham teaches in a very comfortable manner. It is a huge eye opener for those of us who are 100% caucasian/western European, allowing us to walk in the shoes of someone who is of mixed race.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By gil croome on May 11 2013
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I found this a fascinating mix of family history, genealogy, and DNA genetics. The DNA material is presented in a way that will be clear to beginners and not condescending to those with a bit of knowledge (I can't comment for those with much knowledge. Carolyn Abraham has a fascinating family history to be introduced too. The trail - and so the book - ended too soon.
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This book is an intriguing exploration of the distribution of genes across the world. Central to the theme is the mystery of Carolyn's family which is interesting to follow. I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of the broader picture of human and cultural geography and the implications for distribution of us all around the world.
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I have a similar story with Jamaica roots and found this a real page turner. I covered a lot of the same ground including proving a family connection with Y-test DNA matches from FamilytreeDNA. But in the end it was the paper trail turned up by Dianne in Jamaica which proved the author's ancestry not the DNA testing. So this book did not really convince me that DNA testing had changed everything (yet)--just that currently it gives a sense of direction to look in--on paper! Of course in ten years time that could be very different. Nancy Ffrench Atkinson
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I got pulled into the story from chapter 1...deeply satisfying and refreshing writing style. i had to refer back to the two family trees in the front two pages to keep up ... The story of author's Family is told in a very interesting and humorous way..The limitations and powers of Dna analysis are explained in layman's terms..I loved it..i am supposed to be 100% from the Indian subcontinent BUT my DNA lineage end in Mediterranean..fascinating .. i can relate to the writers dilemma
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