Thursday, December 4, 2014

The House We Grew Up In - Book Review

November ended up not being my best month for reading. I didn't read nearly as many books as usual and I wasn't blown away by any of them. As the Thanksgiving holiday approached and we prepared to join my siblings at my parents' house, I was finally able to pick up The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. Perfect timing--a novel about a dysfunctional family would surely make my own wonderful family seem even greater.

Lorelei has worked hard to provide a cozy and happy childhood for her four children. With two daughters who inherit their mother's beauty, glowing twin boys, and a kind husband, Lorelei seems to be succeeding at her goal. Unfortunately, a tragedy shatters their family one Easter. Lorelei struggles desperately to hang on to her children and everything else as the children grow up and put as much space between themselves and home.

The House We Grew Up In shows the hoarder from an interesting perspective. As her children sift through the colossal amount of detritus and things that their mother has "collected" and literally filled the house with, the reader sees glimpses into the mind of the hoarder and the motivations and feelings behind what is ultimately a mental illness. It is hard not to sympathize with Lorelei even as the consequences of her illness are difficult to fathom. Jewell successfully puts a human face on the problem.

The other members of the family react to the tragedy and to the ensuing issues with Lorelei in various ways. Each character is very individual and I appreciated the distinctions between the siblings. Fully formed, they are at times despicable, careless and selfish. The actions, reactions, choices and consequences of each character effects the other members of their family. As hard as they pull apart, there is still a pull that binds them together.

With rich writing and strong characters, Jewell creates a novel that is compelling and heartbreaking. It's an interesting study of another broken family--the guilt, pain, mourning and sorrow that follows tragedy and the hope for reconciliation and forgiveness.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell is a She Reads book choice this fall. Many other reviewers have shared their feelings about the novel. Be sure to check them out. The novel was published by Atria Books in August 2014.

**I received a complimentary copy of The House We Grew Up In through**

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