Atria Books: 8/12/2014
eBook, 400 pages
Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children’s lives.
Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they’ve never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in—and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.
Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.
The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell is a very highly recommended novel about a very highly dysfunctional family.
The Bird family, parents, Colin and Lorelei, and their four children, Meg, Beth, Rory and Rhys live in a picturesque village in the Cotswolds. Easter is Lorelei's favorite holiday and she loves to make it an event while relishing the pastel foil wrappers. But underneath the charming exterior is a much more complex situation. Lorelei has mental disorder: she is a hoarder. While certainly her propensity to hoard was present before, it is set into high gear after a horrific family tragedy occurs one Easter weekend.
As if this one tragedy, and the fall out of the family dealing with it, is not enough, there are more incidents and poor choices and mistakes and... The Bird family is a catalyst in a bubbling caldron of melodrama and dysfunction. The story unfolds through emails Lorelei is sending in 2011, the present day tragedy that must be dealt with, flashbacks as the children are growing up, and through the voice of several different characters.
I decided on my highest recommendation for The House We Grew Up In for several reasons. This novel is very well written and not just a soap opera of troubles. The development of the characters and the progression of their problems were believable, even if many of their choices that created more problems were unfathomable. The narrative is plotted with care as more, new information about past and current issues is slowly revealed. It is totally engrossing and entertaining. You will be anxiously turning the pages to read what happens next. In the end I decided that I was completely immersed in the story, and, much like an episode of a show on hoarders, repulsed but intent on finding out what could possibly happen next.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Atria Books for review purposes.