This week’s pick is a family drama by British author Lisa Jewell, titled The House We Grew Up In.
A compelling, complex family drama that was so very different from the book description (you might wonder if I’m just rubbish at reading the description, but no), I was quickly drawn into both the story and the family members. The happy scene depicted in the opening pages proved to be a stark contrast to the later lives of the inhabitants of the Bird House. When tragedy strikes on an Easter Sunday, the family falls apart, but while the blame for this is put on the tragedy, it turns out to be far more complicated, and what seemed to be just a story of a family dynamics (or dysfunction) grows into a deeper look into the mind and motivation of a hoarder.
Yes, I said hoarder. Totally not what I expected, particularly given the free-spirited, cartwheel-turning personality of hippie mother Lorelei.
I’ll be honest: when this storyline came out, I thought I would be put off but it was strangely compelling.
The rest of the cast of characters is made up of bookish dad Colin, Meg (who starts out a bit of a snarky teenager), little sister Beth (a dreamer, and a bit lost), and twins Rhys and Rory (the former a bit of an odd loner, the latter a popular teen.) The rather idyllic childhood that Lorelei tries to give them ends abruptly at the aforementioned Easter tragedy, at which Lorelei seems a bit too able to put behind her and move on. As the family deals with this, and her reaction, each in their own ways, it drives each of them on a very different journey in life than their mum intended.
Another confession – at times, each of the characters shows rather distasteful characteristics, questionable decisions and the like…and yet…you will find yourself rooting for them, glued to the page to see how they end up. Lisa Jewell crafts such wonderfully complex characters that I found myself caring about all of them and this kept me hanging on to the end.
If you need a break from light, fluffy beach reads (or dystopian reads, or vampires, or zombies) and want something that will really hit you – in a good way – this is the book for you.
The House We Grew Up In will be published on August 12 by Atria Books.
I was kindly provided an advance reader copy of this book by Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are mine and I will only provide reviews for books I truly enjoy.