Title: The House We Grew Up In
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 12, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
This book is possibly one of the most tragic stories I’ve ever read. It is a heart-wrenching tale of a broken and dysfunctional family, torn apart by unspeakable tragedy, unable to heal. Each member of this family struggles to recover from the loss that altered each of their lives forever, their pain manifesting in obsessiveness, denial, anger, fear.
From the first sentence, I was hooked. I sped through it in two days, unable to put it down. The house they live in begins as a place of love and memory. It is a place for family. But devastation quickly overcomes the space and it becomes a prison both literally and figuratively. Some members of the Bird family become physically trapped within the house, while others are unable to break free of the mental hold that their life and the household has on them. Their entrapment manifests in obsessive compulsive behaviours and a manic desire for order, extreme social insecurities, or a complete disregard for responsibility. Each Bird suffers in his or own way. The story follows each of them–how they live and interact, and how their actions affect the others in their family–and their journey to healing. They must learn to face their pain and to move past it in a healthy and healing manner.
Shocking is the only word that adequately describes the Birds’ lives. Everything they encounter is one step closer to appalling and horrifying. That’s what makes it so fantastic. The Birds’ are a microcosm for how we deal with death and suffering. Some choose to ignore, others choose to micromanage. But in the end, we are all searching for a way to heal and move on with their lives. Each character experiences great growth over the course of time, accepting and making peace with their lives. Their transformations are beautiful and I soon found myself feeling as if I too were a part of the Bird family.
Overall, a really awesome read. It’s so devastatingly sad but so elegantly moving. Each and every word deserves special attention because everything that Jewell has to say is so ripe with meaning. I definitely recommend this one!