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Every Family Has a Story: How We Inherit Love and Loss (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Julia Samuel is a British psychotherapist and I find her to have the highest level of wisdom and compassion. Her latest book, Every Family Has a Story: How We Inherit Love and Loss, reminds us that until we face up to whatever baggage we carry from our parents or grandparents, trauma needs to be dealt with in order for us to become whole. During the pandemic, she used Zoom for family therapy sessions and you’re just riveted by their stories. The book serves as a reminder of things to think about with regards to our own family dynamics.

— Roxanne


Why do some families thrive in adversity while others fragment? How can families weather difficult transitions together? Why do our families so often exasperate us? And how can even small changes greatly improve our relationships?

In Every Family Has a Story, bestselling psychotherapist Julia Samuel turns from her acclaimed work with individuals to draw on her sessions with a wide variety of families, across multiple generations. Through eight beautifully told and insightful case studies, she analyzes a range of common issues, from loss to leaving home, and from separation to step-relationships, and shows how much is, in fact, inherited—and how much can be healed when it is faced together. Exploring the relationships that both touch us most and hurt us most, including the often under-appreciated impact of grandparents and siblings, and incorporating the latest academic research, she offers wisdom that is applicable to us all. Her twelve touchstones for family well-being—from fighting productively to making time for rituals—provide us with the tools to improve our relationships, and to create the families we wish for. This is a moving and reassuring meditation that, amid trauma and hardship, tells unforgettable stories of forgiveness, hope and love.

About the Author

JULIA SAMUEL, MBE, is a leading British psychotherapist and the author of the Sunday Times bestsellers Grief Works and This Too Shall Pass. During the last thirty years, she has worked in both public health service and private practice, and she is founder patron of Child Bereavement UK and a vice president of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. She is frequently cited across the national media, and has presented the podcasts Grief Works and A Living Loss.

Praise For…


"What makes Samuel outstandingly sympathetic as a therapist and as a writer is her unusual willingness to admit to faultiness and not to be remote or over-authoritative. She is a virtuoso listener, but wears her heart on her sleeve and will occasionally admit to feeling unequal to what she is witnessing. Her lovely—and in no way insensitive—character leavens the narratives assembled here. . . . The Samuel magic continues to obtain." The Guardian

"In the eight case studies we are gently guided . . . towards a deeper understanding of the importance of honesty, self-examination and communication within all relationships. . . . [An] engrossing book [with] extraordinary personal honesty." Daily Mail

"[Samuel] excels at distilling shrewd insights from her subjects. . . . [Her] candor offers an unusually intimate look at how therapists work. . . . Covering a broad array of family structures and dilemmas, this quietly dazzling consideration of what it means to be a family is sure to resonate." —Publishers Weekly

"An essential, clever and kind book that reminds us that we can never hope to understand ourselves without deeply understanding our families. A testament to the ongoing relevance of psychotherapy and to Julia Samuel's preeminent skill as an author and therapist." —Alain de Boton

"Julia Samuel is so wise and compassionate. I love every word she writes and long for every reader—every person—to experience her unique and generous way of being in the world." —Cathy Rentzenbrink

"Julia Samuel brings her characteristic warmth, compassion and wisdom to the vital matter of how families function. She writes with unfailing grace, tenderness and consummate story-telling. Everyone who reads this will learn something profound—about themselves, their origins and the people they love most dearly." —Dr. Rachel Clarke

"Julia Samuel offers us vivid insights into the way family structure, stories and experience exert their influence across generations. Here is a book for all families, where we can appreciate our own family's strengths and take courage to explore our hurts. The issues are so vibrantly explored that I was utterly drawn in. This is a book about love: a superpower when we use it wisely and well." —Kathryn Mannix

"Fascinating. . . . Julia Samuel's compassionate work never fails to inform, comfort and make me think." —Pandora Sykes

"This book is wonderful, wise and empathetic, so useful but also so beautifully written. . . . What I found really interesting is the sense of reciprocity, how Julia is engaged in the process of working with clients, changed by them and their stories, as we are by reading about them. Every family should have one, to consult in times of trouble." —Gavanndra Hodge

"The families Julia Samuel works with in her moving and fiercely honest book are just like all of us: flawed, paradoxical, difficult and somehow loveable. Her writing is honest, heartfelt and wise. . . . Over and over she extracts the extraordinary from people who didn't know they had it in them. I am grateful to have found her writing." —Raffaella Barker

Product Details
ISBN: 9780385684392
ISBN-10: 0385684398
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Publication Date: November 15th, 2022
Pages: 320
Language: English