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.
The House We Grew Up In is one of the SheReads.org Books of Fall. Instead of choosing one monthly book, they have changed it up a bit, now choosing a few books that you can pick from and read through each season. While a couple of the other choices may have been more up my alley, the reason I love being part of this online book club is expanding my horizons. I normally opt for crime and thriller books, so when I can read a little more women’s literature, I am always on board. Oh and this one is set in England, so I narrated the whole thing in a British accent, which is always a plus.
This book, wow! It follows the Bird family, past and present. While Meg is the main character in the book, all of the family members play a lead role at some point or another, sharing the story from their perspective. And boy do they have a story to tell!
The Bird family is seemingly all put together, but “seems” is the key word. One Easter, the holiday of all holidays in the household, tragedy takes a toll, and it’s a toll they struggle with their entire lives. As I read this book, my heart broke, several times over. Even if you haven’t suffered the tragedy that the Bird family did, Jewell puts you right in the middle of it and tugs on your heartstrings like they’ve never been tugged on before. And if the tragedy wasn’t enough, the dysfunction of this family pulls at you even more. It’s sad and tragic and raw. And it will make you want to call your family and thank them.
This book really touches on a lot of family dynamics. From secrets, to tragedy, to relationships, to death, to lies, and mental illness. And it’s all in one family.
Jewell knocked this one out of the park. I give The House We Grew Up In 5 out of 5 bookmarks.