The Juggler's Children by Carolyn Abraham

The Juggler's Children

Carolyn Abraham explores the stunning power and ethical pitfalls of using genetic tests to answer questions of genealogy--by cracking the genome of her own family. Recently, tens of thousands of people have been drawn to mail-order DNA tests to learn about their family roots. Abraham investigates whether this burgeoning new science can help solve 2 mysteries that have haunted her multi-racial family for more than a century. Both hinge on her eni...

Details The Juggler's Children

TitleThe Juggler's Children
Release DateMar 26th, 2013
PublisherRandom House Canada
GenreNonfiction, Science, Cultural, Canada, History, Autobiography, Memoir

Reviews The Juggler's Children

  • Cheryl
    I was an avid genealogist for several years, a while ago. Many nights I'd be up until 2 am, despite having to get up for work in only 5 hours, because I'd be "on a roll". I'd be uncovering a stream of information about newly discovered ancestors, going farther and farther back. One line even got traced back to the tenth century. The key was hitting European nobility in your lines - once you found that, you were in through the door to a rich world...
  • Krista
    I felt a gust of breath and then a soft, firm tap on my crown and the damp spray of a snort. Anyone can receive the blessing of the temple pachyderm for a few rupees, which the elephants are trained to collect with their trunks. It's nearly as common as incense in south India. But at the end of that long day, near the end of a journey I once said I'd never make, in search of some connection to an ancestry I'd never known, it meant something to ta...
  • Candice Abraham
    What can I say...this is one amazing read. Who knew you could get locked into the suspense of a story and actually learn some science along the way! Seriously though, I could not put this book down and devoured it over just a few days. The journey Carolyn Abraham takes us on is fascinating and coupled with Abraham's superb storytelling ability, I found myself just turning page after page until I was done.I didn't realize how much genetic knowledg...
  • Danusia
    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 se...
  • DeB MaRtEnS
    I wanted to recommend this outstandingly interesting book to another reader and discovered that I had not written a review when it was finished. This is such a terrific story, filled with mystery and secrets about ancestry, a search for identity and an era in India's history with Britain purposefully ignored and almost suppressed. It is also the story of DNA, the science of which tells about forbears almost as part of fairytales and the strands w...
  • Dar
    A very detailed account of the author using DNA testing to uncover family tree mysteries. I was impatient with her methods at times, and wanted to shout "Look in DOCUMENTS!" Eventually she says, "The truth wasn't written in our cells after all; it was written in ink."
  • Wanda
    I’ve just finished this book, The Juggler’s Children. It has certainly got the genealogist in me stirred up, wanting to get researching once again. The book gets its name from the author’s pursuit of information on her paternal great-grandfather, apparently a Chinese juggler. Although this one man gets her started, she also ends up pursuing family ties in India, England and Jamaica as well. Once research gets rolling, it can literally lead ...
  • Helen
    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 fr...
  • Kae Emm
    A really interesting read about one woman's pursuit to find out more about her family history, using genetics as the main investigative tool. This book includes fascinating personal stories and memories from the author, her family, and people they met in their journey, and a lot of rich information about history, science, and the use of modern DNA studies. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interested in these subject areas, as well as...
  • Sarah
    I was gripped by this book, just like Carolyn Abraham's search for her ancestry gripped her. I'm just glad I got to find out the conclusions of her ancestry much faster than she did! What a lovely mix of genetics and good old fashioned genealogical research with some anthropology and history thrown in. Abraham's writing is very readable and funny at times (her challenge with the"the arrogant cows" of india had me giggling for days). Her analogies...
  • Diane
    Award-winning Canadian medical writer Carolyn Abraham has a Jewish surname, parents who were both born in Indian but they are not Indian, a great-grandfather (the juggler) who looked Chinese and another great-grandfather who was a sea captain and travelled to India from Jamaica! When she and her siblings were asked "what" they were, they had not answer. It was not until Abraham's first child was born that she was adequately motivated to use new D...
  • Allison
    For anyone interested in the advancement of DNA research for the purposes of genealogical information, this is a great book to read. I learned a great deal. The story of Abraham's own family was really interesting (what was going to happen next!?) but also served as a great vehicle for learning more about the science of how we're all genetically related -- or not. Fascinating stuff. Makes me want to dig further into other similar books. Anyone ha...
  • Paul Lima
    I should not be the audience for this book. I can trace my family tree back to my grandparents, and then it's full stop. And I've never been inclined to look any farther. Really couldn't care less about my roots. This is a book about finding where you come from, and I found it fascinating and engaging as the author used DNA and various records to trace her ancestry. Her family lives in Mississauga, near Toronto (Canada) but they go there via Engl...
  • Zoom
    This is a genealogical memoir written by Carolyn Abraham, a Canadian journalist and science writer. She and her family are ethnically pretty mixed, and she always wondered what they were. She knew little about her ancestors, but had heard tales of Chinese circus jugglers and jamaican sea captains. She embarked on a journey with her parents to learn more, using DNA testing and research.This is the story of that journey. If you're interested in DNA...
  • Carole
    This is a fascinating story of the author's explorations into the genealogy of her family and how she used the science of DNA to try to track down their roots. Carolyn Abraham is a science journalist whose mixed heritage prompted her to try to find out the answer to the question she had been asked as a child: "What are you?"Abraham knows her subject and is also an excellent storyteller. Although this is a non-fiction science book, it reads like a...
  • Dale
    I really found this a struggle to read at times. The science was far too complex at times and all the names and relationships were convoluting as well. I was glad that Abraham put the family trees at the front of the book. I actually copied them as my book mark, so I was able to keep the immediate family members straight in my mind. I wish I had kept track of all of the digressions from this immediate tree on the family tree - then I might have g...
  • Karen
    I loved this book and devoured it in 2 days. Following the DNA leads to discoveries about the author's family, including India, Jamaica, and maybe even a trip to China. Questions were raised like, if your great grandfather assumed a new name in a new country, what does that mean to the current generation? DNA testing is referred to as a Western European hobby, many people in England or other origin countries know where they come from and have no ...
  • Kirsten
    I didn't finish this one. I love the science behind it, and she is an excellent author. But she lost me halfway through. The story lost momentum and I was just not reaching to read my book at the end of the day. I had to file it away. Will try again in the future when life is a little less chaotic.
  • Ginny
    Fascinating read if you are into genealogy, especially genetic genealogy. I wish my ancestry were as interesting as hers!
  • Robin
    Reminded me of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I enjoyed the mix of science and family history. Didn't get to finish it unfortunately.
  • Elaine
  • Sarah Anne
    I really liked the science in this book and the stories uncovered. It's too bad some of the family stories weren't uncovered more, but that's the point of the book.
  • Martha
    genealogy + DNA scienceFirst third of book is fascinating then begins to drag with author's personal long search
  • Jasmine
    I was expecting a book mainly focused on science and DNA but The Juggler's Children turned out to be more in the style of a biography and the author's personal record of her journey in tracing her family history, i.e. this book was more about DNA and chromosomes from a layperson's point of view. I didn't mind the historical component too much since I got to read about Jamaican and Anglo-Indian history, as well as the socio-political impact of sla...
  • Penny McGill
    I did really love this book. It was one of those books that I waited for what seemed like ages to read. Several patrons in our library were checking it out enthusiastically and one of our volunteers spoke of how much she was enjoying it and encouraged me to read it - it was like a popsicle that you know WILL come but when will it actually be yours. That preamble meant that I was ready to really like the book but not necessarily love it. Well, it ...
  • Mike Smith
    "What are you?" That's what Carolyn Abraham's classmates asked her on the playground. With her brown skin and European features, the other kids were curious. Her mother told her to tell them, "We're English". In fact, Abraham's parents were born in India. She was born in England and moved to Canada as a child. She is now a science reporter for the Globe and Mail. She decided to use her contacts to explore the genetic history of her family and ans...
  • Jenny
    Abandoned. Good book but the science is so dated now, I lost interest and patience - I blame myself, not the author.
  • Dylan
    I was tethering between 2 and 3 stars.The content was more dry than I thought it would be. The premise looked promising, but I believe it failed to deliver.From the level of the science discussed, I assumed the author had a deep science background, but the accompanying notes indicated the author doesn't have a science background, that the information came from others providing their advise and expertise.It has been a long time since I heard buzz ...
  • Gordon
    More like 4.5. This book is a fascinating look into the emerging science of DNA especially as it relates to genealogy. Abraham delves into her family's past as she searches for two legendary ancestors - a juggler from China and a Captain from Jamaica. She finds a past as diverse as sub Saharan Africa, Jamaica, China, south India and Scotland with several other steps between. This story makes a mockery of any notion of "race" and racism. We humans...
  • Carolyn James
    Growing up, Carolyn Abraham would feel dread every time she was asked "where are you from?" She was darker skinned then Caucasian, her last name was Jewish and she once met a grandfather with disticntly Chinese features. With all these ethnic possibilities swirling around, Abraham turned to DNA testing to find out where she is truly from. Though my upbringing is very different then Abraham's I can see where the desire to know your roots could gna...