The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Publication date: August 12, 2014 by Atria Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Description from Goodreads:
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.
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.
This is one of those books that just made me think: WOW! As soon as I started reading The House We Grew Up In, I was hooked. The book goes back and forth in time and also has some of Lorelei's emails interspersed throughout. The reader is introduced to the lovely Bird family, Lorelei and Colin and their children, Megan, Beth, Rory and Rhys. Lorelei is this free, flowing hippy flower-child who lives in the moment. Her husband, Colin, is more pragmatic and tries his best to make her happy.
While the book begins in present day, the story of the Bird family is told between the emails and remembered events from the past - often the Easters they celebrated together. Their lives seem almost idyllic as their story begins, but there is a certain tension there. Just what this is and the causes are slowly revealed throughout the novel. There is one shattering event that does seem to cause everyone to spin out of control and has long lasting consequences for the family.
I found this book to be a real page-turner. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. The writing is just beautiful and the story deals with family and all the messiness that can entail, mental illness, growing up, dealing with death and other changes in life. But most of all, it deals compassionately with the issue of hoarding. Each member of the family is allowed their view on the issue and how it impacts them. The issue is also examined from the perspective of the hoarder which I really found to be compelling. I will be suggesting this book to my friends and I am planning to suggest it to my book club for the coming year.