August 13, 2014

Latest Read: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Publication date: Aug 12, 2014
Publisher: Atria Books
Category: Adult - Contemporary Fiction
Source: Received from publisher via Netgalley (Thanks!)
Summary: Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village. 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 man named Colin and their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. Then one Easter weekend, tragedy so devastating comes to call and 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
Truth? I only read this book because Jojo Moyes blurbed it. (Don't judge.) It's a book definitely out of my comfort zone and I admit, there were times when I questioned why I kept going. It had nothing to do with the writing, which was great, but the stories of this one family were just so sad. Sad and kind of crazy. The urge to keep reading The House We Grew Up In was like a trainwreck you know you should look away from but can't. I'm sure we've all said at one point or another that our own families are crazy. I know I have. But the Bird family is on a whole other level of drama. The book alternates between past and present and between each member of the family and we learn all the ways in which they have drifted away from another. They were once a big, happy family. It wasn't perfect but they were together. Then a tragedy hits them and nothing is ever the same. They are each affected in different ways and years later, they are estranged as can be.

The Bird family consists of: their sweet father Colin, their hippie mother Lorelei, practical Meg, shy but beautiful Beth and twins Rhys and Rory who are very much opposites. In the beginning, you can already see the foundation for the troubles ahead. Lorelei is off in her little world of eccentricities too often, Colin is too complacent and Rhys doesn't seem to fit in. But the only person who sees this is Meg. Which will be recurring theme. Meg is the only one with her head on straight and while sometimes her rigidity comes back to bite her in the ass, she was the only character I connected with. I understood her need to be the opposite of everything that frustrated her in her home life. A part of me wishes more of the book had been told from her point-of-view but at the same time everyone's perspective was essential to understanding their whole story. Each of them are so intertwined in the other's sadness and happiness which I feel can be so true about families in general.

And that's what the book is ultimately about. This family goes through the ringer. I mean almost every possible family drama you can possibly think of happens here. In fact, one character's story in particular made me rage. (And might be my biggest complaint about the book but more on that in a minute.) Still so much is explored here. Love, relationships, marriage, mental illness, family, forgiveness. It's that exploration that kept me turning the pages even when the characters were at their worst.

(Some) reservations
I think some books, like this one, benefit from having chapters from different point-of-views. I really do. But the downside is if you're not interested in all the characters or if you just can't connect to them and I did struggle with that here. I only really liked Meg. For her practicality and because in some ways, I think she suffered the most of her siblings but still fought to move forward in spite of it. Also, because of the multiple POVs some plots are moved forward behind-the-scenes and a couple things did feel a little too neatly wrapped up.

Do I recommend?
Ultimately I did enjoy the book and I think it's important to try different books so I'm glad I did. But you have to be in a certain mood to read this one. So if you're intrigued by the plot and want some crazy family drama, this might be for you.

Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, crazy family drama! That's definitely a reality for most of us, so I'm admittedly intrigued by The House We Grew Up In. Even though it sounds like it might be a little too dramatic in the end for me, I still think I might want to give it a shot. Definitely taking note of it for future library runs!

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