Review: The House We Grew Up In

the-house-we-grew-up-in“Clever, intelligent…wonderful” (Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You).
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.” – Publisher Summary

The House We Grew Up In, by Lisa Jewell, disturbed me. The premise of this novel is that the estranged children of the Bird family are gathering together at their childhood home after the death of their mother, Lorelai. While Lorelai, as mentioned, has passed on, she is a major player in this book. And Lorelai, my friends, was a hoarder. Not just a little bit of a hoarder, but a hoarder in the sense that the only inhabitable place left in her home was a small area encircling a recliner in which she lived and slept. Only narrow paths between floor-to-ceiling piles led from the door to her “living area”, so narrow that her pregnant daughter cannot even fit to navigate them. These scenes were difficult for me to read because, y’all, I have major issues with hoarders/hoarding. I cannot even watch the commercials for that show, Hoarders on TLC. But alas, this is not about me…

Basically, the story moves back and forth between the present time during which the family is working on Lorelai’s Hoard and going back in time to various Easter holidays. Easter was a huge cause for celebration for the Bird family as they were growing up, until young Rhys Bird hung himself in his bedroom on his sixteenth Easter holiday. While Jewell details the family’s following Easter holidays, things are much different afterward – obviously – and the Bird family begins to fall apart.

While – as mentioned – I had difficulty reading about the Hoard, I did enjoy reading about the extremely dysfunctional Bird family dynamics and the various happenings to each member over the years. Jewell writes with gorgeous detail and brings her characters to life for us. Reading as though you are a fly on the wall, you will follow the Bird family as they mourn their mother (and brother) and slowly find their way back to each other after years of running away.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. Buy it, read it, love it.

3 stars

Source: Atria Books {via NetGalley}



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2 thoughts on “Review: The House We Grew Up In

  1. Kelly says:

    Oooooh this totally sounds right up my alley. I love any book that involves lots of family drama. I hope that doesn’t say anything about my own family…haha. Great review!

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