The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell is one of the She Reads Books of Fall that are being announced today and what a great start! I loved each and every page of this book. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Karina Fernandez and she does such a beautiful job of bringing this novel and its characters alive. I haven’t listened to her before but I wouldn’t hesitate to again. The House We Grew Up In is an emotional and beautifully told story that I’m sure will stay with me for a long time.
The Bird family is your run of the mill family living in a Cotswold village. There’s Meg who is sensible and straightforward and Beth who goes with the flow and idolizes her sister. Then there are the twin boys Rory and Ryhs. Rory is the outgoing and more popular twin whole Ryhs is more of a loner and withdrawn. Dad is the kind of guy who just wants everyone to be happy but it’s really mom Lorelei who shines in this family. She is the heart of everything with her sweet nature and free spirit. She’s the kind of mom who takes joy in birthday parties, Easter, Christmas and just about anything that gives her a reason to celebrate.
In the meantime though she’s busy collecting things. Mementos she calls them and slowly they are filling up each and every spare spot in the home. Then in one split second it all changes. Tragedy strikes the family and it isn’t long before their seemingly perfect family becomes unhinged.
As the years pass they find the children grown and Lorelei has managed to become the village’s worst hoarder. Her husband has left and her children and grandchildren aren’t even able to visit due to the hoard. Consequently Lorelei has lived her days as a very lonely woman and yet still she refuses to part with any of her things. The Bird family can’t escape tragedy and the latest one brings the family back home. Back home to confront their mother’s hoard and even more to face and accept how the events of the past changed them all.
This was such a good story and one that stirs so many emotions. It deals with a family tragedy that has repercussions for years to come. While Lorelei liked to collect things maybe her illness might not have been so severe without the tragic incident hanging over her and this is the case with so many hoarders. Their desire to collect leaves them broke, lonely, and alienated from family. The characters in this book make many mistakes but eventually learn that forgiveness is the only way to move on.
I really connected with the Bird family. I felt joy for their happy moments and sorrow for the sad ones. You can’t ask for much more from a really good story that ultimately touches your heart in many ways. Highly recommended for lovers of women’s fiction!