Friday, August 01, 2014

Book Review: The House We Grew Up In

About the Book:
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.

My Comments:
Ever read a book that you enjoyed but when asked to name a favorite character,your answer was "none of the above"?  I guess I liked Meg better than any of them but she took neatness a little too far.  Actually all the characters are more identified by their flaws than by their strengths.  All of them manage to make real messes of their lives and the lives of those around them.  

It is an odd book in a lot of ways.  Easter, the day we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ was the favorite holiday of the non-religious Lorelei.  She insisted on egg hunts and lamb dinners, even after the kids were too old for egg hunts.  This day on which Christians celebrate life became the day of death in her family.  I wonder if the lack of faith, the inability to look beyond the present world, was part of what caused the fractures in this family.  Her children decide at the end that the problems were no one's fault, but I have to wonder if a childhood trauma didn't start everything.  

The book is set in England and uses a lot of English words like "nappies" and "trainers" as well as English spellings of words like "colour".  

The book is written as a multi-threaded story that comes together in the end.  One thread is Lorelei writing to pen pal towards the end of her life.  Another starts on "the day" and continues through the young adult years of the children.  Another is what happens after Lorelei's death.  Each chapter is dated, but on my Kindle I found it hard to keep the dates straight and put them in order except by the story.  A paper copy would make flipping back to see the date of the chapter you just finished much easier.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via Edelweiss.  Grade:  B.


  1. Your B grade gives me hope I'll like it :) I have a paper copy so hopefully I'll have better luck keeping dates straight. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. I've been really curious about this one. Yours is the first review I've seen that makes me want to pick it up.


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