Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Review: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Expected publication: August 12th 2014 by Atria Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Atria Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book is an epic family drama that spans thirty years of the Bird family. It begins on Easter Sunday in 1981 with an egg hunt that Lorelei Bird meticulously puts on for her four children, Meg, Beth, Rory and Rhys. It then spans ahead to 2011 with Meg and her daughter picking up the pieces of a shattered family filled with secrets and heartbreak. As the story unfolds we learn what happens in between and how things go quickly down hill after tragic events that take place on a different Easter Sunday.

I loved the way that this story flowed. It goes back and forth between past and present and the voices of all key players are heard. The reader gets a clear picture of each family member, their struggles, thought processes and emotional well being. Using this style I felt that the characters were very well developed. It also kept the pages turning, making a 400 page book feel more like 200.

Every member of the Bird family had issues and this book covers numerous different serious topics in the process. Ultimately though, this story is about family and how each member tries to overcome the trials and tribulations to find answers, forgiveness and acceptance. At times it is not easy, unthinkable things happen, there are many betrayals, a lot of anger, deep dark secrets and guilt.

In the end I adored this book. I loved the story and was invested in each of the characters. I will admit that I wasn't sure how it would play out and if anything could be resolved.  Jewell did a fantastic job with this story. This is the first of her books for me but it definitely won't be the last if this book is any indication of how good her other work is. I highly recommend this book!

About the Author

Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She is the internationally bestselling author of ten previous novels, including The Making of Us and Before I Met You.

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