The House We Grew Up InThe House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Published by Atria Books
Review copy provided by She Reads

From the publisher:

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.

I don’t really know where to start with this novel. The summary is one that will make you think these children grew up with a perfect life, until one horrific event shattered everything, but truth be told, that’s not really the case. The Bird family had never been perfect – in fact, it seemed to me that they were only hanging on by a thread when everything suddenly spiraled out of control. All that being said, this book is about a family with some MAJOR problems.

While each character in this novel is flawed in their own way, Lorelai – the matriarch of the family – really takes the cake. She is unable to deal with the devastating event that happened to this family, so she turns away from her husband and kids, and begins a relationship with another woman, and begins hoarding so much stuff to the point that, eventually, no one can even live in the home. When they siblings and their father eventually come back to the house, years have gone on like this and they are shocked to discover what Lorelai’s house has become. Most of the book is about the family coming together, figuring things out and learning to deal with one another – learning to forgive when forgiveness doesn’t seem possible.

There’s a lot to take in here – The House We Grew Up In isn’t an easy, quick read by any means. This family’s problems run far and deep, and every single person in this novel has issues that they are unable or unwilling to deal with. But these are the kinds of novels I tend to really enjoy – these family drama type books, where you get to know the characters intimately and coming away feeling like they are real people, like you just got to know another family. This is the way I felt upon finishing this novel, and I ultimately enjoyed it quite a bit. It was incredibly sad to watch this family unravel so quickly, but that made the efforts each one put in towards coming back together that much more meaningful.

Lisa Jewell is a new author to me and I really appreciate everything she’s done with this read. I will definitely be looking for more of her books in the future!