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8 November 2013

Review: 'The House We Grew Up In' by Lisa Jewell (2013)

Meet the Bird Family.

All four children have an idyllic childhood: a picture-book cottage in a country village, a warm, cosy kitchen filled with love and laughter, sun-drenched afternoons in a rambling garden. But one Easter weekend a tragedy strikes the Bird family that is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear them apart. The years pass and the children become adults and begin to develop their own quite separate lives. Soon it's almost as though they've never been a family at all.

But not quite.

Because something has happened that will call them home, back to the house they grew up in - and to what really happened that Easter weekend all those years ago.

Lisa Jewell has been one of my favourite authors for several years now. Her novels ‘Thirty-nothing’ and ‘One-Hit Wonder’ were some of the first chick lit books I bought, and ‘Vince and Joy’ is one of the first chick lit novels I fell head over heels in love with. Through the years, Lisa Jewell’s books have been of a constant quality, and I know whenever I find a new novel with her name on the cover, it must be a good read. So, when I was contacted by Random House about a review copy of Lisa Jewell’s latest release, ‘The House We Grew Up In’, I couldn’t shout ‘YES’ quick enough. I love the new covers of Lisa Jewell’s latest books, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in another promising story!

In the year 1981 the Bird family seems to have it all. Lorelei and Colin are happily married, and their children Megan, Bethan and twins Rory and Rhys have the perfect childhood growing up in a lovely house in a small country village. But then, one Easter weekend, tragedy strikes and from that moment on, life will never be the same again for each member of the family. As time passes, the children grow up and everyone goes their separate ways. Until another event brings them all back together again, back to that house filled with memories of a happy family, and that one moment that changed absolutely everything.

‘The House We Grew Up In’ focuses on a period of 30 years in total, namely from 1981 until 2011. Each chapter provides the reader with details of what happened each Easter weekend, slowly bringing all the pieces of the Bird family puzzle together. At the centre of it all, is the Bird house, which at first comes across as a simply beautiful place, filled with sunshine, love and laughter, but later on also shows the darker side of the people who lived there. The great mix of characters and storyline had me hooked from the start, and I felt myself entirely gripped by it all. The novel deals with numerous sensitive topics, such as keeping secrets from one another, cheating, mental illness, hoarding; but relationships, in their various fascinating and complex ways, are at the core of it all.

I personally loved how the story switched from present to past and back again, which resulted in me slowly managing to piece all the details together. All the Bird family members managed to speak to me in a different way, all with their own personal flaws and experiences. Every family has their own secrets, and I loved how Lisa Jewell portrayed this one particular group of people. It wasn’t always easy to read, because there are many painful scenes in the book, but at the same time the book was just incredibly fascinating and I was unable to put it down. With the beautifully written, simply gripping and poignant ‘The House We Grew Up In’, Lisa Jewell has once again shown what a brilliant storyteller she is, and I eagerly await her next release.


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