I have to start this review with the following quote from the book:
“I love other people’s families,” he said. “They always make me feel better about my own.”
Secrets, lies, fears, estrangement, tragedies. Hidden or not, every family has them. We can’t deny that. The House We Grew Up In tells the story of the Bird family. On the outside they are picture perfect English family, happy and united. Everything seems fine until one Easter day, something tragic happens and we read how each family member reacts and copes with the situation through the years, a premise with which we can all relate to.
The House We Grew Up In in is an unputdownable book. The writing is fantastic. It is fast paced. It is also compelling and descriptive. The author makes an excellent job in transmitting feelings and emotions, making it hard not to feel the characters’ happiness, fears and pains. You also get a full-length picture of the settings. The third person narration is great, you feel like reading a very real and actual story. I enjoyed the way everything unfolded. We go back and forth into different episodes in this family’s life. It was cleverly written in a way that you don’t feel lost in time. Unlike other books I’ve read, where the time jumps are just confusing, the transitions between the past and present memories in this book are flawless. Also, the emails inserted in the story are a great plus to understand many questions that flourish while reading.
The characters were very well developed. You feel like you get to know them all through the years. There are characters for everyone: babies, kids, teens, young adults, grown-ups you name it. They are all intertwined and important for the story. Despite their flaws, you can bond with any of them.
But there’s another unusual character in this story, one that teaches valuable lessons. A character that is not human. For me, the house was another main character in this book. It played an important role in this family’s life. More on this on the full review on my blog
I liked this book very much. It personally hit close to home in different ways. This book touches an infinite variety of subjects that everyone can relate to. This book will make you reflect on how you handle similar situations. Highly recommended read for families and book clubs. It is a window of opportunity to have profound discussions on topics like lesbianism, suicide, mental illness, alcoholism, adultery, hoarding, incest, unconventional relationships, cyber dating, parenthood and familial bonds, to name a few.
Hoarding is one of the main subjects in this book. I think it was addressed in a respectfully impeccable way. We’ve all seen those TV shows in hopes to get some insight on the matter, but these shows don’t get to the core of the situation. If you’re interested in this topic, this book is a great aid. More on this on the full review on my blog
Even though I’ve enjoyed reading this book twice and have learnt quite a few lessons from the story, I gave it 4.5 stars because I felt that we needed a little more insight on Rhys. He’s the only character in this story that remains unknown. I understand that it had to be that way in order to bond with the rest of the characters and feel what they felt, but still, I got to know too little about him that I felt like I needed to understand him as much as I did the other characters. Rhys was a loose end. If it weren’t for that it would be a solid 5 star read.
The cover is just so perfect for the story. At first, I was attracted by the pretty image and colors. But having read the book it’s so much more than that. The fact that the egg is cracked is perfect. That egg symbolizes so many things for me. Yes we can go with the obvious, on how Easter is not a pretty colorful marketed day but an imperfect and haunting date for this family, the “eggcentric” egg-hunts Lorelei was obsessed with, etc.; it ties well to the plot. But there’s more to it. More on this on the full review on my blog
The title of this book is so clever. Hats off to Lisa Jewell. Some people think they grow up the minute they leave their childhood home, like once you’re outside “the house”, leaving everything inside that house is a rite of passage that magically makes you an adult. But the Birds didn’t grow when they “flew the nest”; they grew up when they came back to the house to clean it up. Cleaning the hoard wasn’t just about getting rid of all the stuff accumulated inside the house, they also cleansed themselves from guilt and all the feelings and thoughts that had them stuck and didn’t allow them to move on. They came back to the house, they reunited, bonded and grew up IN.
This was the first book by Lisa Jewell I read, and it was so fascinating that I will look for her other work in the future.
The House We Grew Up In is a powerful story about a family that could be yours or mine. You will definitely think of your family and reconsider your relationship with them when you read this book. There are no perfect families. This book teaches you that, in case you were still dreaming about perfection.