Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

Where to start, is the question of the day. I haven't quite decided so this review might be a little all over the place. The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell follows the Bird family through the years, alluding to why they are all so estranged then climaxing to the devastating day that caused such a huge rift in each of their lives. That is the basic plot. I don't want to give too much away because it really is a wonderful, insightful journey to take with the family your own. So I'll try not to spoil too much.

The story follows Lorelei and Megan Bird the most. Lorelei, in her children's eyes, was full of love, surprises, and fun. And Jewell wastes no time to provide readers with a few red flags early on. It begins with her wanting to keep every single piece of art her four children brought home from school to keeping random objects that are broken or useless. But soon her collections become piles of stuff, and more stuff, until the house they grew up in is no longer the gem it once was. Somewhere its hidden under the piles of junk, similarly to their personalities. 

I don't think there was one family member who was not without flaws. There's Megan who tries to be the exact opposite of her mom. She isn't whimsical, manic, or a hoarder. She loves for her home to be spotless without any clutter or mess. She is probably the least whacked out of their brains in the Bird family. 

Beth, the middle, often invisible daughter, is so far off the hinges there are no words. On a constant journey to find herself... she's probably my least favorite character. And poor Rory with his guilt. This family is just whacked. I won't say more.

The House We Grew Up In is really a character study in how tragedy affects everyone differently and can cause ripple effects that takes years to recover from. Although Lorelei's flaws were most visible, the Bird's were all being buried under guilt, shame, lies, betrayals, and secrets. 

Enough about the book, let's talk about the writing. This novel flows so well. Usually I find it exhausting when novels jump from one decade to another so much. But the present chapters are explained well in the chapters from different years in the past, as well as the personal emails from Lorelei to a man named Jim. It's actually quite shocking that Lisa Jewell was able to pack so much into such a small package. The novel isn't long but there is so much going on. She uses every word wisely, and forms characters readers come to know personally. 

Ultimately, I loved reading The House We Grew Up In. Lisa Jewell has made me want to read other books by her. This novel is an emotional rollercoaster so just buckle up and enjoy the ride. Try not flying over the cuckoo's nest with the rest of the Birds as you read.  ****

Copy provided by Atria Books via Netgalley

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