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We Only Know So Much Paperback – June 12, 2012
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“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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I kind-of liked this one. There were some real chuckles and even a few LOL moments ( daughter Priscilla was just tooooo bitchy not to laugh at),
But the ending was a bit too... Read more
Its well written. You feel like you are peeking into the life of othersPublished 4 months ago by Avo Kubar
I found it hard to keep up with the characters. It was really a bunch of short stories. There were too many unanswered questions I would have liked to have been resolved. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Dorothy M Sillers
What a refreshing change in contemporary fiction. Love the every day not being so every day...
Highly recommend this book.
You won't regret buying this book! Each character is presented individually, and you get to know each and every one of them on a very personal level. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Aubrey Braddock
A very dysfunctional family that doesn't know how to communicate with each other. Four lives going about their business. It reflects today's family. I found it humorous.Published 24 months ago by Patricia Myers
An unusual writing style in two different ways. One was a third person observation of the character and his or her behavior, and the other was the character ruminating in his or... Read morePublished on July 23, 2014 by Penny B.
This story started out interesting enough. Quirky characters. But after the first several chapters... nothing. Read morePublished on April 29, 2014 by Lit Chic
Story had no direction, very disconnected. The ending was very abrupt and didn't bring the story to a conclusion. Would yet recommend to friends.Published on April 12, 2014 by AmazonFanInYL