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.
Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.
There are very few books that I give the two thumbs up of appreciation for but once I started reading, The House We Grew Up In, I knew it was going to be something special. The intense elation to be absorbed in a book that holds your attention hostage from beginning to end, is one that I can without second thought suggest you grab a copy and dive right into.
Beautifully written, Lisa Jewell graces the reader with her introspective, insightful novel, gripping our undivided attention with characters whose raw vulnerability shatters any boundaries between them and the reader. The depth of her characters being stripped to their cores, allows the reader to empathize and embrace such brokenness into becoming whole. Relatable and interchangeable, The Bird Family unknowingly, disconnecting that connection to their familial past, only to find later the answers were with those four walls.
The book spans over the duration of the lives of their family, told from the alternating perspective of the past and the present. It wasn’t until one Easter day tragedy occurred that seemed to be the catalyst for their foundation to crack within their family. At one time, everything all rainbows and sunshine, began an invisible divide that would lead into their own lives and separate their familial bonds. It wasn’t until the unthinkable happens that draws them back to face all the secrets and pain that silently destroyed their inner souls.
Trust me when I tell you that this book is more than what I am saying but I cannot find the words to justify how great it is. The heart of the book is the story being told and the beauty that lies from what it invokes from the reader. The depth and growth of each of the characters individually and collectively through their struggles, pain and redemption permeates the pages and pull at your every emotion. The quality of her writing attributing to the story and its characters enables the reader to connect on a humanistic level. No family is perfect. It is through acknowledgement of our imperfection that lead to our growth and healing. So insightful and reflective, this novel will inspire hope, love, forgiveness and redemption for any broken soul to become whole again.
Reviewed by Michelle Bowles
Publication date: 8/12/2014