Longlisted for the 2002 Man Booker Prize.
Shortlisted for the 2001 Trillium Book Award.
Carol Shields: "I have no doubt but that this wise, funny, harrowing novel will be the book of the year. The writing is superbly in charge of itself. The subject of Critical Injuries is forgiveness, and at its moral centre is an intelligent, reflective consciousness we can admire, but also love."
The Times of London: "Barfoot is a novelist who should be known to all aficionados of black comedies about the trials of love and marriage: her past eight novels read like Margaret Drabble rewritten by Patricia Highsmith and are hugely, horribly entertaining. Her latest book, Critical Injuries, should propel her towards a more serious audience...it is a magnificent novel about anger, remorse and the painful attainment of grace....Barfoot's unsentimental voice encompasses humour, anger, power and delicacy...this novel [is] a serious work of literature about the unexpected capacities of the human heart, and a pleasure to read."
The Scotsman: "Barfoot takes a shocking but commonplace newspaper story and unfolds the impact of those few seconds on the lives of her characters with deft wisdom, bringing the reality of something that we all too frequently think happens to 'other people' home to roost. Deftly woven, it's an uncompromising, unsentimental meditation on fate, chance and forgiveness."
Toronto Star: "Barfoot writes with passion, insight and an extraordinary clarity. Her characters, even such secondary ones as Roddy's father and grandmother, and their relationships to each other, are drawn with such a depth of understanding that one can only marvel. None of them is shortchanged; all are magnificently, awfully human. Each is capable of growth, spiritual evolution, a compelling generosity of the heart. In Barfoot's vision, 'being trusting and hopeful sound like virtues, not stupidities', and redemption can happen to those who truly seek it. Barfoot does not preach, sugarcoat the unpleasant or bore with cliches. She is painstakingly - often painfully - honest. The result is a beautiful book, a must for every discriminating reader's fall list."
The Globe and Mail: "There's just one problem that faces the reviewer of a Joan Barfoot novel: Her plots depend upon some element of suspense. Events happen in Critical Injuries that the responsible reviewer does not want to reveal lest some of the pleasure awaiting readers be stolen. I can say, though, that...readers will be swept along in the book's tide, and further, readers will recognize that every paragraph, every sentence, every word in this book counts - which, as it happens, is another of the novel's themes. Barfoot's sentences sing. It's easy to imagine that the author has lived a dozen different lives...Critical Injuries brims with achingly difficult truths; ultimately this is a book about the variants and vagaries of love and generosity of spirit."
The Toronto Sun: "Canadian novelist Joan Barfoot's novels have gained increasing praise with each new book since her award-winning first novel, Abra. This is a mature, insightful and compelling story about fate, personal catastrophe, forgiveness and, finally, grace. These are large issues but Barfoot handles them with a deft touch. Unquestionably Barfoot's best book to date."
Sunday Times (London): "Joan Barfoot is a prize-winning Canadian novelist with a sympathy for ordinary lives. Like Anne Tyler and Carol Shields, she writes about families: how they are created and destroyed ... Two stories are told in parallel ... the narrative is compelling, fast-moving, cut up, and shared between the two main characters to leave the reader constantly wondering what will happen next ... if one of the messages of the book is that nobody's life is serene and immune from pain, another is that people do get 'restored' ... that we come to accept this benign picture is due to Barfoot's novel-writing skills."
London Free Press: "Critical Injuries is an exceptional book, a novel shot through with the sharp, unsentimental wit and well-honed wisdom that have defined Barfoot's fiction. The novel is elegantly written and full of the same compassion for human confusion that marks the work of Alice Munro and Timothy Findley. It is a book brimming with intelligence, which looks, without flinching, at the tragic randomness of life and at the possibilities of recovery. It is about accusation and absolution and about the saving grace of forgiveness."
Quill and Quire: "Critical Injuries...is a finely crafted fiction, perfectly paced to entice the reader into the depths of the wrenching morass that Isla and Roddy find themselves facing. The subtle narrative follows first Isla, then Roddy, back and forth in a simple dance that gently guides the reader through tough emotional terrain…. Barfoot gives "[Roddy's] life depth and resonance - a remarkable achievement in a novel that is full of surprises."
Times Literary Supplement: "This story...is about the cruel power of chance, and the hazardous, often haphazard, road to wisdom...and the writing is by turns lyrical and biting."
Ottawa Citizen: "Joan Barfoot reads and writes the minds of women with a clear, exquisitely precise magnifying glass ... Critical Injuries reminds us that we are all victims of potential coincidences, all vulnerable to unexpected explosions. The best we can do is bear the dispensations of fate with grace."
Chatelaine: "All the intense emotion makes for a stay-up-half-the-night read, but the best part of the book is Barfoot's exploration of forgiving the unforgivable without descending into Oprah-fied psycho-babble. (We bet Oprah may be interested in Critical Injuries for her book club anyway.)"
Homemaker's magazine: "This season's must-read novel."
Library Journal: "Barfoot brilliantly conveys how out of tragedy can come not only acceptance of changed circumstances but a source of grace."
Booklist: "Barfoot smoothly sifts the conscious and subconscious minds of her protagonists, invoking sympathy for Isla and understanding and even forgiveness for Roddy in this funny and sad novel of innocence destroyed and wisdom gained."