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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062099477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062099471
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“At last a novel from Elizabeth Crane! With her expert humorist’s eye for detail, she gives us a playful, passionate story of longing, heartbreak, and of the gargantuan human will. You won’t be able to stop reading.” (Deb Olin Unferth, author of Revolution)

“Not since The Royal Tenenbaums have I loved a family so much. The Copelands of WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH are wonderfully eccentric, hilariously not self-aware and strangely adorable. They seemed so real, I felt like I was reading my own family story.” (Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and Drinking Closer to Home)

“This is the kind of book that inspires a person to see the beauty in the ordinary, to stop concentrating on others’ failings long enough to see their spark and maybe rediscover his or her own.” (Susan Henderson, author of Up from the Blue)

“Crane delivers a unique and dizzying tale that delves into the emotional life of a family teetering on the brink of everything. . . . The beauty in Crane’s novel is her sweep from acid commentary to heartfelt portrayal of real-life loves and losses.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Crane’s novel is filled with deliciously idiosyncratic characters, humorous and distinct narration, and a whole lot of personality. Each character’s emotional growth is just enough to satisfy, without being overbearing. . . . Crane’s summer novel has undeniable heart.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This is an irresistible and winsome read. A truly astute tale of love neglected and reclaimed, family resiliency, spiritual inquiries, and personal metamorphoses.” (Booklist (starred review))

“A beautiful, warmhearted, ferociously honest debut that will pull you in with its chorus of true voices and catch you off guard with its playful, restless edginess.” (Patrick Somerville, author of The Cradle and This Bright River)

“What I know for sure is this: Elizabeth Crane understands family. The simple pleasures, the daily outrage, the constant burying of secrets. Be careful what you say to your children -- they are listening. A funny and remarkable first novel.” (Marcy Dermansky, author of Bad Marie and Twins)

“Its style is literary, with an edge: The point of view is wicked, the characters prickly, the language not quite quotable here. I can’t wait to read past the first chapter.” (Los Angeles Times)

“The Copelands would feel right at home in a Noah Baumbach movie. . . . Our narrator is an omniscient ‘We’ who reports the goings-on of the family with the breathless glee of an incurable gossip.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Like any good story writer, she had me in the first two paragraphs. . . . A treat to read. The characters are crisp and enjoyable; the narrator is smart and witty.” (IOWA PRESS-CITIZEN)

From the Back Cover

Jean Copeland, an emotionally withdrawn wife and mother of two, has taken a secret lover—only to lose him in a moment of tragedy that leaves her reeling. Her husband, Gordon, is oblivious, distracted by the fear that he's losing his most prized asset: his memory. Daughter Priscilla (a pill since birth—don't get us started) is talking about clothes, or TV, or whatever, and hatching a plan to extend her maddening reach to all of America. Nine-year-old Otis is torn between his two greatest loves: crossword puzzles and his new girlfriend.

At the back of the house, grandfather Theodore is in the early throes of Parkinson's disease. (And he's fine with it—as long as they continue to let him walk the damn dog alone.) And Vivian, the family's ninety-eight-year-old matriarch, is a razor-sharp grande dame who suffers no fools...and still harbors secret dreams of her own.

With empathy, humor, and an unforgettable voice, Elizabeth Crane reveals what one family finds when everyone goes looking for meaning in all the wrong places.


More About the Author

I am: writer, wife, sister, daughter, teacher, eater of sweets, crafter, blogger, happy.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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This book was so boring, badly written and repetitive.
Estee R. Kennedy
This book is funny and wrenching--I found myself laughing and crying on the same page at times.
Kate Abbott
And as with all good stories--I want to read on, but it's over.
Laurie A. Grove

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Currant45 on June 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Wow. How I loved this book! Elizabeth Crane is just SO GOOD. Sharp, witty, fiercely observant. These characters -- their collisions, misunderstandings, flaws, heart are so authentic and identifiable. I felt myself projecting all over the place! I'd recommend it to everyone I know and could totally see it as a movie -- a la The Royal Tenenbaums...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By briget on March 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm an avid reader...one of those who's lost without a book (or a Kindle!) in her hand. I picked this book up and could barely put it down. The writing is different than anything I think I've ever read...it truly was like having someone sitting down with me and sharing their world with me.
I read this on a loan from the library but will be buying it. It's that good that I want it in my collection. And I plan on reading everything else by Elizabeth Crane I can get my hands on!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By ObsessiveReader_1279 on June 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
I LOVED this book- reading about the Copeland family had me laughing, cringing and crying almost at the same time. This family is one at a cross roads- each for a slightly different reason- each wrapped up in their own personal drama that they don't see the turmoil in the lives of those around them. This first novel will be one that sticks with you and makes you want to spend more time with this cast of characters.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Carroll on September 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wanted to like this book better than I did. It started out great - quirky characters, a sardonic narrator with a knowing, snarky tone, interesting story-lines. But everything flattened out so as to provide a kind of feel-good ending. It seemed that the author lost her voice or confidence as the novel progressed.

There's an interview with the author at the end of the book. Turns out that she's previously written short stories. She started this one as a short story, too, but then kept going. She got a lot of outside "help" turning it into a novel, some of which, by her own admission, she resisted. It shows in the final product - the book is like a tire with a slow leak that accelerates as the book progresses.

Better luck next time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Lopez on July 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a story about family in flux - not together in that, oh no - they're separately in flux. Also of note: this is a character study, so if you're turned off by lack of slick plot, you might want to put this one down.

But... if you do, what you'll miss is the entertaining voice of the narrator, which is truly the best thing about this book. The narrator is a character itself, in that you're constantly being told what he/she (it?) believes each of the characters is or might be thinking at any given time.

The narrative voice was as individual as the well-drawn characters themselves, so much so that near the end, I expected to find out the book was being narrated by another member of the household whose introduction was rudely overlooked. Or a pet.

(Stranger things have happened.)

At any rate, I wouldn't go so far as to call the characters quirky. In fact, they're all rather normal, in that I've met them all at one time or another. None of their actions or reactions feels like it's coming from the quirk zone--the book seems to be about the quirks that life itself has to offer, and how these particular characters react to them.

The story is basically this: a house full of family members who are all in simultaneous states self-absorption, which keeps them from communicating with one another in any meaningful way. There's no big Hollywood ending here. In fact, the end is more of a question. But that's as much as you're getting out of this reviewer.

I enjoyed this book mainly because of the "character" of the narrator, but the actual characters are all very well realized, even if none of them seem to understand who they are, or what they're supposed to be at any given moment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Judi O'neil on August 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a difficult book to get into and I really didn't enjoy it until the last quarter of the book. However, when it all came together at the end I found myself touched. What seemed particularly interesting to me was realizing that I'm never going to know what my parents really thought or felt and that gave me quite a bit to think about.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bac on March 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What an amusing story! The characters are so easy to believe, and the story just keeps getting better as it goes along. I had a hard time putting the book down, and will look for more from this author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kate Abbott on March 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
In full disclosure, I had Betsy as a teacher and she was delightful. I read this book after I was in her class, and I can say that her personality and style really shine in her writing. This book is funny and wrenching--I found myself laughing and crying on the same page at times. Well worth reading to get to know the quirky family. I find myself still thinking about them months later!
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