When a tragedy breaks a family apart, what can bring it together?
The Birds seem to be a perfect family: mother, father, four children, a picture-book cottage in the country.
But when something happens one Easter weekend, it is so unexpected, so devastating that no one can talk about it.
The family shatters, seemingly forever.
Until they are forced to return to the house they grew up in. And to confront what really took place all those years ago.
The Bird family has Loreli as its matriarch and she has always been a little eccentric and a compulsive hoarder. When tragedy strikes the Bird family, Loreli's eccentricities go into overdrive until there is literally no room in the house for anyone but her. She has built new walls and corridors from the items she has hoarded. The image of this ethereal woman all alone, estranged from her family is utterly devastating. Lisa Jewell shows the reader how the situation has arisen and how family secrets can have truly awful consequences.
The book is mainly told from the children's points of view and jumps back and forth between the past and present. Megan, Beth,, Rory and Rhys were close as young children, all connected by their mother, yet they are virtually strangers now; almost driven away by the woman who gave life to them.
The hoarding aspect of the book was fascinating; I have watched several programmes about this obsession and I felt that Lisa Jewell showed the devastation it can cause and the many reasons behind it. The fact that Loreli's house is a beautiful cottage in the Cotswolds almost compounds the damage. Through her hoarding she gradually loses the only thing she has left, her beautiful home, the last member of her family.
The House We Grew Up In is a thought-provoking and poignant read. I felt as though it was a lot darker than Lisa Jewell's previous books. It felt a little more grown up and personally I am a big fan of this new direction in her writing.
I can't recommend this book enough but you will definitely need to set aside some time as you won't be able to put it down.
Many thanks to Atria Books for allowing me to read a review copy via Netgalley.