title: The House We Grew Up In
author: Lisa Jewell (Twitter)
genre: fiction/family issues
published: August 12th 2014
first line: Tuesday 2nd November 2010
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
OUR HOUSE. OUR FAMILY. OUR SECRETS.
Meet the picture-perfect Bird family: pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and towheaded twins Rory and Rhys, one an adventurous troublemaker, the other his slighter, more sensitive counterpart. Their father is a sweet, gangly man, but it’s their beautiful, free-spirited mother Lorelei who spins at the center. In those early years, Lorelei tries to freeze time by filling their simple brick house with precious mementos. Easter egg foils are her favorite. Craft supplies, too. She hangs all of the children’s art, to her husband’s chagrin.
Then one Easter weekend, a tragedy so devastating occurs that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass and the children have become adults, while Lorelei has become the county’s worst hoarder. She has alienated her husband and children and has been living as a recluse. But then something happens that beckons the Bird family back to the house they grew up in—to finally understand the events of that long-ago Easter weekend and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.
After having read Then She Was Gone this past January I knew I wanted to read Lisa Jewell again. The House We Grew Up In centers on the Bird family and their secrets, heartache and healing. The story goes back and forth from past to present day as we get each family member’s story. The matriarch of the house is a hoarder. When the children were growing up Lorelei seemed like an eccentric stay at home mom with a house full of knick knacks and the walls covered in her children’s drawings, but as the years passed this turned into a full on hoard situation. Her husband Colin is a quiet teacher who turns a blind eye to the hoarding, their twins sons are Rhys and Rory and the daughters are Meg and Beth. The neighbor Vicky and her children also become part of the Bird’s lives.
There is a devastating event that takes place on Easter weekend and it the catalyst that begins to tear the family apart. I found that the author gave each character enough depth so that you see how their home situation affects them for the rest of their lives. This is always an interesting topic, the way we grow up and how it helps to shape the people we become.
The cast of characters are all flawed and their own worst enemies in many ways. There is plenty here to discuss and this would make for a great book club read. Lorelei is a sad yet maddening character, she won’t face reality and continues to find reasons to hoard until she totally isolates herself and shuts everyone out. She would rather purchase things than food to eat. Beth’s actions as an adult are infuriating, Meg seems the responsible one but she is hanging onto false security and Colin was a mess at times. I felt bad for twins Rhys and Rory but Rory was extremely selfish. I found the neighbor Vicky to be an interesting character and I ended up liking her. She winds up playing a big part in the Bird’s lives.
“And all the while, Lorelei’s house sat behind them, with its thick layers and crusts and walls of composted newspapers, waiting, patiently, ominously, for them to unclog its arteries and bring forth its buried secrets.” -p. 334, The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Author Jewel describes the hoard perfectly and I felt claustrophobic as I read some scenes. She dives into the complexities of family relationships and showcases how unconventional they can sometimes be. There was a scene towards the end that I found very bittersweet as the siblings all come together to help clean the hoard. I found it ironic that the hoard that tore them apart ended up bringing them back together years later. Going into this one I expected it to be more of a domestic thriller but what I found here was a story about a dysfunctional family and the way they struggle to finally make amends. I recommend this one if you enjoy books about family issues and relationships.
About the author:
Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of seventeen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone and the UK instant Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller The Family Upstairs, as well as other much loved novels such as Watching You, I Found You, The Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. In total, her novels have sold more than two million copies across the English-speaking world and her work has also been translated into over twenty five languages. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.-quoted from Amazon
Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. Some of these links are affiliate links. The book photo is my own.