The House We Grew Up In
By Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 8/12/2014
My Rating: 5 Stars
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.
A special thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for an advanced reading copy, in exchange for an honest review.
Wow, Lisa Jewell's THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN, is a poignant and powerful bittersweet story of a family experiencing loss and love!
This was my first book by the talented UK author, Lisa Jewell, and so look forward to adding more of her other books to my “must read” list.
The gripping novel moves back and forth between present and past day, covering a span of thirty years, from the Easter Sunday of 1981 in the beautiful garden of their Cotswold cottage, idyllic with love, laughter, and a happy family all around, to quite the opposite. A painful demonstration how a perfect family can be torn apart by circumstances-from "treasures to crap".
A perfect front cover image, with the breaking of The Bird family – eccentric mom-65 yr old Lorelei, dad Colin and their four children, Meg, Beth, Rory and Rhys – each of them play a huge and significant part of the overall compelling novel. Lorelei craves memories and wants to hold on to everything to keep her family close.
In the present day, the family comes home for the first time in years following a tragedy, which has left them separated from one another, with bitterness and guilt. Can they restore peace and unearth the many secrets?
Of course, each family member is battling their own demons, as the story unfolds and you keeps you turning to find if they-- can or will survive. Each has their own way of handling this emotion and means of coping, independent of the other. (family drama and dysfunction at its finest!)
There is so much to this book, as hard to describe the depth with highly charged and sensitive topics of insecurities, secrets, hoarding, death, mental illness, bereavement, suicide, adultery personal struggles, and many issues about relationships between parent and child, and husband, wife, lovers, and siblings. (some outside the family which are connected, as well).
Jewell demonstrates incredible insight and sensitivity in developing each of the characters expressed from their individual view point. She explores all sides, (getting inside their heads) both positives and negatives, brilliantly!
As a takeaway- there are many --- lost ways, forgiveness, love, trust, courage, acceptance, home and family. The flashbacks were given to the reader and slowly the secrets are revealed – incredible timing and a fabulous storyteller.
A definite captivating page-turner; a tragic, complex, and sometimes heartfelt story--one you will not soon forget! Highly recommend, and look forward to reading more from Lisa.
Believe all the good reviews – “It IS that good and more”!
About the Author
Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.
She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.