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The House We Grew Up In: A Novel

The House We Grew Up In: A Novel

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The House We Grew Up In: A Novel

4/5 (312 evaluări)
436 pages
7 hours
Aug 12, 2014


From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone


Meet the picture-perfect Bird family: pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and towheaded twins Rory and Rhys, one an adventurous troublemaker, the other his slighter, more sensitive counterpart. Their father is a sweet, gangly man, but it’s their beautiful, free-spirited mother Lorelei who spins at the center. In those early years, Lorelei tries to freeze time by filling their simple brick house with precious mementos. Easter egg foils are her favorite. Craft supplies, too. She hangs all of the children’s art, to her husband’s chagrin.

Then one Easter weekend, a tragedy so devastating occurs that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass and the children have become adults, while Lorelei has become the county’s worst hoarder. She has alienated her husband and children and has been living as a recluse. But then something happens that beckons the Bird family back to the house they grew up in—to finally understand the events of that long-ago Easter weekend and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.
Aug 12, 2014

Despre autor

Lisa Jewell is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of nineteen novels, including The Family Upstairs and Then She Was Gone, as well as Invisible Girl and Watching You. Her novels have sold more than 4.5 million copies internationally, and her work has also been translated into twenty-five languages. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK, on Instagram @LisaJewellUK, and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.

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The House We Grew Up In - Lisa Jewell



Tuesday 2nd November 2010

Hi, Jim!

Well, I must say, I didn’t think for a minute you’d be called something earthy like Jim! The Barbour and natty waistcoat in your profile photo make you look more like a Rupert or a Henry, something serious with two syllables, you know! And talking of syllables, and since you asked, no, I’m not really called Rainbowbelle. OF COURSE NOT! I’m called Lorelei and my name has three or four syllables, depending on how you say it. (My parents named us after mythical maidens. My sister is called Pandora. There was an Athena, but she was stillborn, so you know.) Anyway. Lor-a-lay-ee. Or Lor-a-lay. I’m not fussy really.

I’m sixty-five years old and I live in one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds in a big, crazy old house full of what I call TREASURES and what my children call CRAP. We are probably ALL right. smiley

I have four children. Megan is forty, Bethan is thirty-eight and the twins, Rory and Rhys, are thirty-five. Oh, and thanks mainly to the frantic reproduction of my eldest daughter I am a multiple grandmother too! Do you have any children? You didn’t mention them so I assume not? People usually tell you about their children before anything else, right? I don’t see them very much, unfortunately, they’re all so busy, and I’m, well, I suppose you could say insular these days. I lost my partner about four years ago and things kind of unraveled from there, you might say.

Anyway, what can I tell you about me? I love nature, I love the countryside, I love children, I love to swim. I’m fit, for my age. I’ve kept my figure over the years, and am grateful for that. I see some women I’ve known for many years just turn to woolly mammoths once they pass menopause! And, as you can see from my picture, I’ve kept my hair long. Nothing ages a woman faster than a haircut!!

Anyway, that’s enough about me. Tell me more about you! You say you’re a widower. I’m very sorry to hear that. And whereabouts in the North do you live? I can see from your photo that you have a dog. That is a very beautiful retriever. What is it called? We had a dog when the children were growing up, but once they’d all gone, I could never quite see the point of animals.

I will see what I can do about photographs. I’m not really very techy beyond my laptop. But there must be something else I can send you. I’ll check it out.

Well, thank you, Jim, for getting in touch. The Internet really is a marvelous thing, especially for old codgers like us, wouldn’t you say? I’d be lost without it really. I’d love to hear back from you again, but please don’t feel you have to, if you think I sound dreadful!!

Yours with best wishes,

Lorelei Bird

April 2011

The damp heat came as a shock after the chill of the air-­conditioning that had cooled the car for the last two hours. Meg slammed the door behind her, pushed up the sleeves of her cotton top, pulled down her sunglasses and stared at the house.

Jesus Christ.

Molly joined her on the pavement, and gawped from behind lime-green Ray-Bans. Oh, my God.

They stood together for a moment, side by side, the same height as each other now. Molly had caught up last summer, much to her delight. They now both stood at five foot eight. Molly long and lean as a fashion drawing, tanned legs in denim hot pants, honey-dusted hair bundled on top of her head in an artful pile, white Havaianas, a chambray shirt over a pink tank top, tiny ankles and wrists layered in friendship circlets and rubber bands. Meg, on the other hand, solid as a quarterback, sensible in three-quarter-length navy chinos and a Breton-­striped long-sleeved top, a pair of silver-sequined FitFlops and a last-minute pedicure her only concession to the unseasonal heat wave. Mother and only daughter, in the late stages of a nightmarish, clichéd teenage disaster that had lasted more than three years. Almost friends now. Almost. Someone had once told Meg that you get your daughter back when she’s nineteen. Only four more years to wait.

This is worse than I thought. I mean, so much worse. Meg shook her head and took a tentative step towards the house. There it stood, brick for brick, exactly as it had been the day she was born, forty years earlier. Three low windows facing out onto the street; four windows above; two front doors, one at either end; on the right by the side entrance a plaque, made by a long-dead local craftsman, an oval with the words The Bird House painted on it and a pair of lovebirds with their beaks entwined. The green-painted gate to the left of the house that opened up onto a graveled path to the back door, the stickers in the windows declaring membership of Neighborhood Watch (whatever happened to Neighborhood Watch? Meg wondered idly), allegiance to the RSPB and an intolerance towards people selling door-to-door.

All there, just as it had been forever and ever.

Except . . .

This is the worst house I’ve ever seen, said Molly. It’s worse than the ones on the TV shows.

We haven’t even been inside yet, Moll, hold that thought.

And my nose too, right?

Yes, probably. She sighed.

The windows, which to her recollection had never been cleaned, were now so thick with grime that they were fully opaque. In fact, they were black. The pastel-yellow Gloucester brick was discolored and damaged. The green gate was hanging off its post by one solitary nail and the graveled pathway was piled high with random objects: two old pushchairs, a rusty bike, a dead Christmas tree in a broken pot, a box of magazines swollen and waterlogged to twice their original size.

The flat-fronted style of the house meant that it held most of its personality within and behind, but even on such scant display, it was clear that this house had a disease. The village had grown more and more gentrified over the decades, all the old houses scrubbed to a gleaming yellow, doors and window frames Farrow-&-Balled to the nth degree, and there, lodged between them, like a rotten tooth, sat the Bird House.

God, it’s so embarrassing, said Molly, pushing her Ray-Bans into her hair and wrinkling her tiny nose. What must everyone think?

Meg raised her eyebrows. Hmm, she said, I’d say that judging by our local reputation this is probably no more than anyone in the village would expect. Come on then—she smiled at her daughter, nervously—let’s go in, shall we? Get it over with?

Molly smiled back grimly and nodded.

April 1981

Megan pulled back the ivy and pushed her fingertips inside a small crevice in the wall.

Got another one! she shouted out to Bethan and the twins.

Oh, well done, Meggy! her mother called from the back step, where she stood in her strawberry-print apron watching proceedings with a contented smile. Bravo!

Megan pulled out the small foil-wrapped egg and dropped it into her basket. It’s pink! she said pointedly to her younger sister.

Don’t care, said Bethan. I’ve got three pink ones already.

Megan looked up at the sky; it was cloudless, densely blue, hot as July. Mum had said they needed to find their eggs quickly, otherwise they might melt. Her eyes scanned the gardens. She’d found all the eggs in the woodpile, gingerly plucking them from next to rubbery woodlice. There’d been more in the beds of daffodils and hyacinths that lined the pathways around the greenhouse and she’d come across a big gold one sitting in the branches of the cherry tree outside the kitchen door. She counted up her eggs and found she had twelve. Bethan and the twins were still searching close to the house, but Megan suspected that the top garden had been all but stripped of its eggy assets, so she skipped down the slate-covered steps to the lower garden. Suddenly the sounds of her siblings and her mother faded to a murmur. It was warmer down here, soft and hazy. The grass had stripes in it, from where Dad had mown it yesterday, this way and that, and little piles of shaggy grass trimmings already turning pale in the burning sun. A camellia bush, confused by the early summer, had already bloomed and spilled its fat blossoms onto the lawn, where they lay browning and sated, halfway to ugly. Megan headed to the lichen-spotted sundial in the middle of the lawn. Three more foil-wrapped eggs sat on top of it and she brushed them into her basket with the side of her hand.

She heard Bethan tripping down the steps behind her in her flamenco shoes. Megan turned and smiled. Sometimes when she looked at her little sister she felt overcome with love. Her worst enemy and her best friend.

Meg and Beth looked identical. They both had what her mother called the Bird face. It was the same as her dad’s and the same as her auntie Lorna’s and the same as Granny Bird’s. Apple cheeks, high foreheads, wide smiles. The only difference was that Megan’s hair was brown and curly like Mum’s, and Bethan’s was straight and black like Dad’s. Rory and Rhys, the twins, looked like their mum. They had Douglas faces. Low foreheads, long noses, neat bee-stung lips, and narrow blue eyes peering curiously from behind curtains of long blond hair.

People always said, Oh, such lovely-looking children. They said, You must be so proud, Mrs. Bird. They said, What perfect angels.

And Mum would say, You should see them when they’re at home, and roll her eyes, with one hand running through ­Rory’s hair, the other wrapped around Rhys’s hand and her voice full of love.

How many have you got? Meg called out to her sister.

Eleven. How about you?


Their mother appeared at the bottom of the steps with the twins in tow. The boys have got nine each, I think we’re almost there, she said. "Think yellow, she added with an exaggerated wink. The boys let go of her hands and ran towards the slide at the bottom of the garden that had yellow handles. Bethan ran towards an upturned bucket that was actually orange. But Megan knew exactly where her mother meant. The Saint-John’s-wort bush right in front of them. She walked towards it and let her eyes roam over the clouds of yellow flowers abuzz with fat bumblebees before they came to rest on a row of terra-cotta pots underneath, overflowing with eggs and small yellow puffball chicks with glued-on eyes. She was about to scoop up the eggs and chicks when her mother touched her on her shoulder, her soft dry hands firm against Meg’s sun-freckled skin. Share them, she whispered softly, with the little ones. Make it fair."

Meg was about to complain but then she took a deep breath and nodded. Here! she called out to her siblings. Look! There’s millions.

All three hurtled to the Saint-John’s-wort bush and their mother divided up the remaining eggs into four piles and handed them to each child in turn. Already starting to melt, she said, licking some chocolate from the edge of her thumb, better get them indoors.

The cool of the house was shocking after the heat outside. It draped itself over Meg’s bare skin like a cold flannel. Dad was pouring juice into beakers at the kitchen table. The dog was dozing on the window seat. The yellow walls of the kitchen were entirely covered over with the children’s art. Megan ran her finger along the edges of a drawing that she’d done when she was four. It always amazed her to think it had been stuck to the wall there, in the very same place, with the very same piece of Sellotape, for six whole years. She could barely remember being four. She certainly could not remember sitting and drawing this portrait entitled megn and mumy, composed of two string-legged people with crazy hair, split-in-half smiles and hands twice the size of their bodies, suspended in a gravity-free world of spiky blue trees and floating animals. The wall of art was a conversation piece for anyone coming into the house; it spanned all three walls, spread itself over cupboard doors, over door frames, around corners and even into the pantry. Dad would try and take some down occasionally, to update the wall as he’d put it. But Mum would just smile her naughty-little-girl smile and say, Over my dead body. If Dad ever saw one of his children producing a piece of art he’d snatch it away the moment it was shown to him and say, That is so very beautiful that I shall have to put it in my special folder, and spirit it away somewhere (occasionally tucked inside his clothes) before Mum saw it and stuck it to the wall.

Now, she said, pulling her tangly hair back into a ponytail and removing her apron, you can eat all the eggs you like as long as you promise you’ll still have room for lunch. And remember, keep the foils for the craft box!

The craft box was another bugbear of Dad’s. It had once been a small plastic toolbox neatly filled with sequins and pipe cleaners and sheets of gold leaf. Over the years it had expanded into an ever-growing family of giant plastic crates that lived in a big cupboard in the hall, filled with an impossible tangle of old string lengths, knots of wool, empty sweet wrappers, toilet-roll middles, old underwear cut into rags, packing chips and used wrapping paper. Megan didn’t really do crafts anymore—she was nearly eleven now—and Bethan had never been as creative as her sister, while the boys of course would rather be roaming the gardens or charging about the house than sitting with a tube of Pritt and a handful of old ice-lolly sticks. No one really used the craft box anymore, but that didn’t stop Lorelei constantly topping it up with all sorts of old junk.

She pulled the egg foils eagerly from the children now as they discarded them, smoothing them flat with her fingertips into delicate slivers, her face shining with satisfaction. So pretty, she said, piling them together, like little slices of rainbow. And of course, they will always make me think of today. This perfect day with my lovely children when the sun shone and shone and all was right with the world.

She looked at each child in turn and smiled her smile. She ran a hand over Rhys’s hair and stroked it from his eyes. My lovely children, she said again, her words encompassing all four of them, but her loving gaze fixed firmly upon her last-born child.

Rhys had been the smallest of all of Lorelei’s babies. Megan and Bethan had both weighed over nine pounds. Rory had been the first twin out, weighing in at a healthy six pounds and fifteen ounces. And then, as her mother often recounted, out popped poor Rhys like a plucked quail, a little under four pounds, blue and wrinkled and just about able to breathe on his own. They’d put him under lights—or lightly toasted him, as Lorelei also often recounted—and declared him fit to go home only after three long days.

Lorelei still worried about him more than the other three. At just six years old he was smaller than Rory, smaller than most of the children in his class, with a pale complexion and a tendency to catch colds and tummy bugs. He clung to his mother whenever they were out in public, wailed like a baby when he got hurt and, unlike his brother, didn’t like playing with other children. He seemed happy only when he was here, at home, brother on one side, mother on the other. Megan didn’t know what to make of him. Sometimes she wished he’d never been born. Sometimes she really thought they’d be better off without him. He didn’t match. All the Birds were fun and gregarious, silly and bright. Rhys just dragged them down.

Megan unthinkingly squeezed her fist around the gold foil that she’d just unpeeled from the big egg she’d found in the cherry tree, and jumped slightly as her mother’s hand slapped down against hers.

Foil! Lorelei cried. Foil!

She immediately let her fist fall open and her mother took the crumpled foil with a smile. Thank you, darling, she said sweetly. She let her gaze fall on the foil and said, Look at it, so pretty, so shiny, so . . . happy.

The Easter holidays stretched out for another week. The heat wave continued and the Bird children came indoors only for beakers of juice, slices of bread and butter and desperately needed visits to the toilet.

Friends came and went, there was a day trip to the beach at Weston-super-Mare, and on the last weekend of the holidays they had a visit from Lorelei’s sister Pandora and her two teenage sons. Dad filled the paddling pool and the adults drank glasses of Pimm’s with fruit-shaped plastic ice cubes bobbing about in them. Megan’s cousin Tom played David Bowie songs on his heavily stickered guitar. Rory burst the paddling pool with a stick and the water seeped heavily onto the lawn, leaving it waterlogged and boggy, and Dad said, Well, that’s that then. Lorelei scooped the floppy remains of the punctured pool into her arms like it was an injured child and carried it into the garage murmuring, Dad’ll fix it up. Dad said, You and I both know that Dad won’t fix it up. I have no idea how to fix paddling pools and I still haven’t fixed the one that got burst last year. And Lorelei smiled and blew him a kiss across the garden.

Dad sighed and said, "Well. We now have three punctured paddling pools sitting in our garage—this house is just a dumping ground," and raised his eyebrows heavenwards.

Pandora smiled and said, Just like our dad. He never could throw anything away.

Megan’s other cousin Ben smiled and said, Tell us again about what Lorelei used to collect when she was a child.

Pandora frowned and then smiled. Autumn leaves. Ring pulls. Tags from new clothes. Cinema stubs. The silver foil from Mum’s cigarette packets.

And hair! said Ben gleefully. Don’t forget the hair.

Yes, said Pandora, anytime anyone in our family had a haircut, Lorelei begged to keep it. She had a shopping bag full of it under her bed. It was quite gruesome.

The adults and teenagers laughed and Megan looked at them curiously. They’d had this conversation before—every time they were together, it sometimes seemed—and whenever she heard them talking about her mum like this it sounded different. The older she got the less she found it funny and the more she found it peculiar. Because she was now the age that her mother had been at the time of these strange childhood collections and she could no more imagine herself collecting old hair than she could asking to go to school on a Saturday.

Are you laughing at me? her mother asked good-­naturedly as she returned from the garage.

No, no, no! said Ben. Absolutely not. We’re just talking about you affectionately.

Hmm, said Lorelei, wiping her damp hands down the length of her long denim skirt. I strongly suspect not.

And then she spread her arms upwards, revealing unshaved armpits of lush brown curls, and declared, Look at that sky, just look at it. The blueness of it. Makes me want to snatch out handfuls of it and put it in my pockets.

Megan saw a look pass over her father’s face at that moment. Love and worry. As though he was aching to say something unspeakable.

The look softened as Megan watched and then he smiled and said, If my wife had her way, her pockets would be full of pieces of every single thing in the world.

Oh, yes! Lorelei beamed. "They would be. Totally and absolutely bulging."

Pandora had brought homemade butterfly cakes with fluffed-up cream and more tiny yellow chicks atop.

Lorelei served them in the garden with tea from a pot and scones and cream. There was more Pimm’s and a plastic bowl of strawberries. The twins ran barefoot back and forth from the hosepipe to fill their water pistols, which, after countless tellings-off, they were using to squirt only each other. Tom and Ben had retired to the bottom of the garden to smoke cigarettes in the hammock and share secret jokes together. Megan and Bethan sat side by side, listening to the grown-ups talk.

When Megan herself was a grown-up and people came to ask about her childhood, it was afternoons such as these that would impel her to say, My childhood was perfect.

And it was. Perfect.

They lived in a honey-colored house that sat hard up against the pavement of a picture-postcard Cotswolds village and stretched out beyond into three-quarters of an acre of rambling half-kempt gardens. Their mother was a beautiful hippy called Lorelei with long tangled hair and sparkling green eyes who treated her children like precious gems. Their father was a sweet gangly man called Colin, who still looked like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish round-framed glasses. They all attended the village school, they ate home-cooked meals together every night, their extended family was warm and clever; there was money for parties and new paddling pools, but not quite enough for foreign travel, but it didn’t matter, because they lived in paradise. And even as a child, Megan knew this to be paradise. Because, she could see with hindsight, her mother told her so. Her mother existed entirely in the moment. And she made every moment sparkle. No one in Megan’s family was ever allowed to forget how lucky they were. Not even for a second.

A cloud passed over the sun just then and Lorelei laughed and pointed and said, "Look! Look at that cloud! Isn’t it wonderful? It looks exactly like an elephant!"

April 2011

The keys were where Lorelei had always left them, under a cracked plant pot behind a water pipe beneath the kitchen window. Meg pulled them out and dusted the sticky cobwebs from her fingertips. Yuck.

The house had been impenetrable by either of its front doors for many years now. The family had always come in and out through the kitchen door at the back and for the last few years Lorelei had been using both hallways at the front as bonus storage areas.

Right, Meg said, rejoining Molly by the back door, let’s go. Deep breath. She threw her daughter a brave smile and was gratified to see her smile reflected back at her.

You okay, Mum?

Meg nodded. Of course she was okay. Meg was always okay. Someone had to be and she’d been the one to draw that straw. I’m fine, love, thank you.

Molly peered at her curiously and then took one of her hands in her own and squeezed it gently. Meg almost flinched at the tender power of it. Her daughter’s touch. Until recently her last memory of her daughter’s touch had been the sting of a palm across her cheek, the jab of toes against her shins, the drag of fingernails down her arm. It had been that bad. Truly. Everything she’d been warned of about teenage girls, squared and squared again. But lately, things had started to change. Lately, it seemed as though her daughter had started to like her again.

Thank you, love, she said again.

You know you can talk about it, don’t you? You know I want to listen. I want to help. You’ve lost your mummy. If I lost my mummy, I’d . . . Molly’s eyes filled with tears and she smiled through them. Oh, God, well, you know.

Meg laughed. I know, baby, I know. But honestly. I’m good. Really.

Molly squeezed her hand one more time before letting it go. She pulled in her breath theatrically and then nodded at the key in Meg’s hand. Meg nodded back and fitted it into the lock. She turned the key. She opened the door.

March 1986

The sky was dark with rain clouds and in the very far distance, thunder was starting to rumble. The York stone paving slabs were still stained charcoal gray from the last downpour and fat droplets of rain clung tremulously to the edges of leaves and spring blossoms. Behind the cloud was a strip of blue and there on the horizon, the faint beginnings of a rainbow. Lorelei stood barefoot just outside the kitchen door, wrapped in a long multicolored angora cardigan. Her waist-length hair was twisted and held on her crown with three large tortoiseshell combs.

Look, Meggy, she said, her head appearing around the door. Look. A rainbow! Quick!

Meg glanced up from her revision, spread before her on the kitchen table, and smiled encouragingly. In a minute, she said.

No! cried her mother. It’ll be gone in a minute. Come and look now!

Meg sighed and rested her pen on her notepad. Okay, she said.

She joined her mother outside, feeling the wetness of the flagstones seeping through her sheepskin slippers.

Beth! her mother called back into the kitchen. Boys! Come quickly!

They’re watching telly, said Meg. They won’t be able to hear you.

Go and get them, will you, darling?

They won’t come.

Of course they will. Quick, darling, run in and tell them.

Meg knew it was pointless to argue. She sighed again and headed towards the sitting room. Her three siblings sat in a row on the grubby sofa with the dog lying listlessly between them. They were watching Saturday Superstore and eating carrot sticks.

Mum says there’s a rainbow, she said defeatedly. She wants you to go and look at it.

No one acknowledged her so she returned to her mother with the bad news.

Lorelei sighed melodramatically. That’s a terrible pity, she said. And look—she gestured at the sky—now it’s gone. Gone for good. Forever . . . A small tear rolled down the side of her nose and she wiped it away with a bunched-up fist, the way a small child might do. Such a pity, she murmured, to miss a rainbow . . . Then she forced her face into a smile and said, Ah well, at least one of you saw it. You can always describe it to the others.

Meg smiled tightly. As if, she thought to herself, as if I will sit with my siblings and regale them with descriptions of the red and the yellow and the pink and the green, the awe and the splendor of the purple and the orange and the blue, the miracle of distant prismatic stripes. Yes, she said. Maybe, later.

It was still raining the next day. Lorelei insisted on the egg hunt taking place regardless.

Let’s do it indoors, darling, Colin had suggested gently.

No way, Jose! Lorelei had countered. Easter Sunday is egg hunt in the garden. Rain or no rain. Isn’t that right, kiddies?

Meg looked out towards the garden, through the rain-­splattered panes of glass, and thought of her hair, lovingly back-combed that morning into a fat quiff and sprayed hard with Elnett. She thought of the muddy lawn and the cold, wet grass and her canvas pumps, and she thought of her drainpipe jeans that she’d had trouble squeezing into this morning, and the date she was going on next week, for which she planned on being able to wear said jeans, not to mention the troublesome spot forming on her chin.

The twins jumped into their Wellington boots and raincoats, while Lorelei ran around in the rain, planting her eggs in the garden. Meg watched her through the window. She looked like a wraith, long and lean, in a cream muslin smock, faded jeans, green Wellingtons and a floppy-brimmed straw hat, her long hair sticking wet to her back, her small breasts growing visible through the fabric of her top as it dampened. Her face was shining with joy as she hopped from spot to spot, plucking eggs from a straw basket held in the crook of her arm.

The boys stood in the doorway, bristling with anticipation. Just turned eleven years old they could still be held rapt by Lorelei with her enthusiasm and childlike charm. Her babies, still, just about.

"Ready, steady, go!" she called out a moment later, and the boys hared out onto the lawn, followed more sedately by Bethan in a pink polka-dot raincoat and rubber boots.

Meggy? Her mother stared at her curiously. No eggs?

I’ll leave them for the others, said Meg, hoping a suggestion of sibling-oriented kindness might prevent further urging.

There’s lots to go round. Tons and tons.

Meg shrugged. I don’t want my hair to get wet.

Oh, for goodness’ sake. That’s no excuse. Put on a rain cap, here . . . She pulled a clear plastic hood from a drawer and forced it into Meg’s hands.

Meg stared at it, aghast. I’m not wearing that!

Why on earth not?

Because it’s an old lady’s hat.

"It is not! It’s my hat!"


Lorelei threw her head back and laughed hard. Oh, darling, she said, one day, God willing, you’ll be forty too, and I promise you, you will not feel a day over eighteen. Not a day. Now put the hat on and come and have some fun with the little ones. Imagine, she said, her face turning serious for a moment, imagine if something happened to one of us and there was no Easter egg hunt next year, imagine if everything stopped being perfect—you would wish so hard that you’d taken part today . . .

Meg stared into the depths of her mother’s eyes, the greeny-blue reservoirs of a million fervent emotions. They were set firm. She forced a smile and said, Okay, dragging out the second syllable to demonstrate her sacrifice. She found eleven eggs that morning and gave them all to her siblings.

Pandora and her husband, Laurence, arrived at midday, without either of their now-grown-up sons but with a new puppy in tow. Shortly afterwards, Colin’s sister Lorna turned up, with a carrier bag full of Easter eggs. Some neighbors were next to arrive, Bob and Jenny and their three young children. Lorelei roasted a leg of lamb in the Aga and served it with far too many honey-glazed carrots (Aren’t they the most glorious shade of orange?) and not nearly enough roast potatoes. The children sat at a plastic picnic table at one end of the kitchen while the adults sat together around the antique pine table in the middle. Megan felt lost among the two parties, too old for the children, too young for the adults, not one person in the room to appreciate her perfectly applied eyeliner or her new Aran cardigan with leather buttons or the fact that she’d finally got down to eight and a half stone. She didn’t like carrots and was toying with the idea of vegetarianism, so she picked daintily at the one roast potato she’d been allocated by her mother (family hold back, darling!) and stared through the window at the incessant rain, fantasizing about her escape.

Megan imagined it to be a glorious explosion of glass shards, as she slammed her fists through the invisible walls around her. She imagined fresh air and bright light and dizzying amounts of space. She saw a room with four flat bare walls, a square bed dressed in plain white sheets, a tall window hung with a simple pair of white curtains like the ones in Demi Moore’s apartment in St. Elmo’s Fire. She saw a shiny kitchen, gleaming pans, a white bathroom and a quiet man with clean fingernails and a silver guitar.

Then she looked around her own kitchen, at the fifteen years’ worth of children’s art lovingly hung and tacked and stuck to the walls, and the thought of escape soured in her heart. She left the children’s table and went and sat herself on her father’s knee at the grown-ups’ table, hoping for a return of the sense of the sugary days of her childhood. He wrapped a gangly arm around her waist and Megan smiled across the table at her mother.

You know, Lorrie, their neighbor Jenny was saying, your kitchen really is the loveliest place to be on a grotty day like today.

Lorelei smiled and put an arm around her friend.

No, it really is. So warm. So welcoming. If I ever found myself stranded on the side of a snowy mountain, freezing to death, I would probably hallucinate about this place. About Lorrie’s lovely kitchen.

Thank you, said Lorelei, kissing her on her cheek. Meggy thinks the house is a mess, don’t you, my darling?

"It is a mess," she replied.

Lorelei laughed. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, darling, isn’t that right?

Meg raised her eyebrows and rolled her eyes. I just don’t know why you have to keep so much stuff. I mean, I understand all this . . . She gestured at the artwork. But why, for example, do we have nineteen tea towels?

Lorelei snorted. We do not have nineteen tea towels.

"We absolutely do have nineteen tea towels, Mother. I counted them the other day. Just as an experiment. Look! She leapt to her feet and yanked open a kitchen drawer. She pulled out examples and held them up as evidence. We have tea towels with holes in them, tea towels with burn marks, stained tea towels, threadbare tea towels. But look! We also have brand-new tea towels—look, nice ones."

Pandora laughed. I must confess, Lorrie, I bought you that one because I was a bit alarmed by the elderly appearance of the existing tea towels last time I came.

Yet, still, Meg continued theatrically, warming to her theme, "do we throw the old ones away? No!

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Ce părere au oamenii despre The House We Grew Up In

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  • (2/5)
    I didn't like the book from the beginning, but I was hoping it would get better. It never happened. Everyone was tutting and smiling tightly. Going back and forth from past to present was confusing for me. Every problem anyone has ever had in the world, this book has them in it.
  • (4/5)
    This story moves around various time periods from 1981 to 2011 and describes the story of Lorelei, her husband, her lover, and her four children. Lorelei is, according to her eldest daughter, "ill" or "mad" and by the end of her life undeniably a hoarder, with only an armchair left to sit and sleep in. I found this a compelling read (after the first few curiously uncompelling pages), but in hindsight it really does have pretty much every dysfunctional behaviour possible; SPOILERSsuicide, borderline incest, infidelity, a breakdown, criminality and a jail sentence, the aforementioned hoarding etc etc.Jewell does a good job of making most of the characters sympathetic to varying degrees and provides a reasonably happy ending, but the story is still overall very sad and emotional.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this book. The characters came together completely and the family unit, as disfunctional as it was revealed to be, will remain with me.
  • (4/5)
    The House We Grew Up In is another excellent offering from Lisa Jewell. It tells the story of the Bird family. Mother, Lorelei, is a terrible hoarder and this has an effect on her whole family - husband, Colin, and her children, Megan, Beth, Rory and Rhys. Easter weekends were special for Lorelei but on one such occasion a tragedy strikes and nothing is ever the same again. The family home is a central part of the story so the title is very accurate in that respect.I thought this was a great read. It's an emotional storyline, telling how a family that is already showing hairline cracks can be torn apart completely. Most of the chapters start with an email, followed by a section in the current day, and then going back through the lives of the family from when the children were small. Gradually it all unfolds and you start to get a greater understanding of what has happened.I've never read a bad Lisa Jewell book. She's a consistent writer and one which I would recommend.
  • (5/5)
    I received The House We Grew Up In as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

    The House We Grew Up In is the story of the Bird family: father Colin, mother Lorelai, daughters Megan and Beth and twins Rory and Rhys. Told mainly over a series of Easter Sundays spanning 30 years, it explores how the family is devastated by one major and many minor acts, and how, having fallen apart, the Birds must learn to slowly renegotiate and resurrect their relationships.

    This story was, quite frankly, unputdownable. I read it in less than 24 hours, and that's with a full night's sleep and a full day at work. Each character is beautifully drawn, flawed but relatable. The book touches on many themes, mental illness, betrayal, and the stresses that test relationships between spouses and/or romantic partners, siblings, parents, and children. I don't want to say too much for fear of spoiling it for others; my advice would be to experience it for yourself.

    Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    This book opens with what appears to be a happy family having an Easter egg hunt. As the novel progresses, the reader sees the family fall apart after a horrible tragedy occurs on another Easter Sunday. The family ends up with the mother as a hoarder, the father in a strange relationship, one daughter who is very uptight, one who refuses to grow up and a son who disappears into the drug world. Any more information than that would give away too much of the story. The story line moves ahead by skipping back and forth from the past to the present and alternating family members but it is not difficult to follow the action. I found the story very very sad but very compelling. It was hard to put down because I cared about the characters and wanted to find out who they all survived their tumultuous lives and I really wanted to know if they found their way back to being a family again. This is a wonderful novel - well written with well defined characters. I would highly recommend it.
  • (4/5)
    (Fiction, Contemporary)This is another book that I chose to work through the trauma I had felt going through my deceased’s mother home and belongings.This fiction offering deals with adult children disposing of their hoarder mother’s ‘stuff’. It should have had a big impact on me but I don’t remember the plot at all.3½ stars
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. In it we meet the Bird family consisting of mum, dad and 4 children. The members of the family are quite different and unique. Lorelei, the mum, a bit of a hippy and unique in her own way. Colin, the dad, who is quiet but nice. And the four children. The book spans about 30 years so we get to hear about their lives over a long period of time. What this book was about for me though, was Lorelei's hoarding. I could just picture this house full of stuff and I wanted her to start throwing things out. All the other things happening went by in the side-lines whilst I was waiting for Lorelei to realise her house was full of stuff!!I found it hard to review this book, so I'll just leave it here.
  • (4/5)
    Meet the Bird family. The Bird children had a picturesque childhood that “was all golden shiny times when nothing could go wrong.” They were a very close family who ate dinner together every night, played in the garden all day, and had huge egg hunts every Easter. Their charming mother left sparkles and sunshine wherever she went and made sure they had the best childhood ever. Then one Easter, tragedy strikes, tearing the family apart, and nothing is ever the same. Lorelei is the mother of the family. She is a very eccentric woman who began collecting things in order to deal with her unhappy childhood. Her collecting becomes more and more of a problem until social workers tell her that her hoarding is so bad that her life is at risk. Meg is the oldest child. Since a young age she has suspected her mother is ill and has constantly criticized her hoarding. She despises her mother’s hoarding and is very outspoken about it. She is the only family member that stands up to her mother.Bethan is two years younger than Meg. She is happy to live in Meg’s shadow. She is shy, quiet, and easy to get along with. She doesn’t really know herself and she struggles with this through adulthood.Rhys and Rory are twins and couldn’t be more different. Rory is cool and popular, while Rhys is strange and nerdy. Rhys is the odd child of the family. Everyone else is bright and fun, but Rhys is a little weird and likes to be alone.After the tragedy that occurs, that I really wish I could tell you about, but I don’t want to ruin the book for you, the family drifts further and further apart, blaming each other for the tragedy until they are pretty much estranged. At their mother’s death they are all brought back together again to deal with their troubled past. “When someone doesn’t want to help themselves, there’s only so much you can do.”“No family is indestructible, but were pretty resilient.” “Maybe if there’d been an explanation we could have all moved on, found closure. We blamed each other because we didn’t know who else to blame. And then we just carried on blaming each other for everything.”A very good read about a dysfunctional family. My favorite thing to read about!
  • (3/5)
    I've tried so hard to finish this but I just can't...
  • (5/5)
    An absolutely beautiful book, by turns heartwarming and heartwrenching.

    One of the characters in this book is a hoarder, and I don't use that word lightly -- but I'm not sure the word hoarder is ever actually used. Instead, the character is defined by so much more than that hobby/sickness/calamity, and yet it is a constantly growing threat to her relationships and even to her survival. And yet, I liked her, very much, and I think the book is powerful because it made a lovely, rounded, sympathetic character in a space where I thought only scary or pathetic caricatures could exist.

    I strongly recommend this book for those who enjoy character-driven fiction, and I would also recommend it to fans of confessional memoirs and the like, as this is so vividly written that at times it feels too true not to be nonfiction.

    *Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
  • (5/5)
    I wasn't sure I could stand this so disjointed family but they definitely grew on me as I read. I had a hard time liking Lorelei but you just plain want this family to somehow sort things out. And to have hoarding so descriptively put out there----frightening, to say the least----and so completely sad because there just seemed to be no way for this woman to escape her seemingly self-imposed prison of things! Lisa Jewell has written so many books and this is the first be if hers that I have read---now I need to go hunting for more.
  • (4/5)
    Enjoyed the book. Complicated issues presented in a realistic manner.
  • (4/5)
    follows an entire family through childhood into adulthood and how their mothers hoarding effects each them. the hoarding however is not the main point of the story, just the backdrop.
  • (3/5)
    Wow! The first thought in my mind as I was reading was that this family is perfect for Jerry Springer.  I kept telling my husband every time something shocking happened, and even he was like "wow."

    The House We Grew Up In is definitely not a light and fluffy read.  This is a family that has to deal with death, betrayal, and some deep dark secrets. I couldn't help but feel bad for these characters, especially Megan, as the events unraveled.  This family was once very close knit.  They loved being together but over the years things begin falling apart.  I don't want to give too much away, but good gravy, I needed to make a chart in order to keep up with all the madness that was going on.

    We also get a look at hoarding.  I'm not a hoarder, and tend to get rid of stuff we don't need pretty quickly and easily.  It was scary seeing how much stuff Lorelie collected.  I mean once it starts taking over your house completely, you have a problem.  It's scary, and is most definitely an illness.  I couldn't imagine being in a family surrounded by things that aren't even needed.

    Like I said, this isn't a fluffy read, but I think it teaches a lot about forgiveness and acceptance.  That's definitely what I took away from reading this book, and I hope others get that same message.

  • (4/5)
    This one is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. At times I liked and disliked every member of this crazy family. I enjoyed the book though and the crazy family.
  • (4/5)
    Four children then three, traditional chocolate-Easter-egg hunts where you had to save the foil wrappings, a tidy house and then a very cluttered one. The Bird family was loving but very eccentric with Lorelei, the mother, being the oddest of all and who kept a secret that made her hold onto things.Colin her husband re-installed the wall in their once duplex house and lived next door to his wife, Megan turned out to be a neat freak, Beth never left home until she was 30 because she thought her mother needed her, and the twins were total opposites as well as having a tragic incident happen to them.There were a lot of strange things about the Birds, but they all loved each other. As the years went on and the children grew into adults, Lorelei still held onto their childhood toys, clothes, blankets, and even drawings as she herself remained an adult child and a compulsive shopper and hoarder. The children couldn't believe what was in their childhood home when they visited and how they had to navigate through a small path surrounded with things Lorelei just had to have and couldn't part with. If you want to read a book that will have you shaking your head but also not wanting to put the book down because of total enjoyment, you will want to read THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN. The storyline and writing were marvelous.I enjoyed THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN because of the unique, creative storyline with characters that kept you wanting to know how each of their lives would turn out. They all were quite unconventional, but you couldn’t help but love them. THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN will have you thinking back to your childhood and wonder if what happened in the home you grew up in has actually shaped you into the person you are today.We definitely can't forget the cover. It is absolutely gorgeous with the egg being the basis of the Bird family's many memories of their Easter egg hunts which kept them all connected. Along with being a beautifully told story, THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN has a happy ending along with characters you will remember long after you turn the last page. I don't think there will be any reader no matter what their preferred genre is who won't get caught up in this splendid story. My rating is going to be a 4/5 simply because I was lost in the beginning pages, but the rest of the book definitely made up for my being lost. Make THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN a must read for yourself.This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    “They lived in a honey-colored house that sat hard up against the pavement of a picture-postcard Cotswolds village and stretched out beyond into three-quarters of an acre of rambling half-kempt gardens. Their mother was a beautiful hippy called Lorelei with long tangled hair and sparkling green eyes who treated her children like precious gems. Their father was a sweet gangly man called Colin, who still looked like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish round-framed glasses. They all attended the village school, they ate home-cooked meals together every night, their extended family was warm and clever, there was money for parties and new paddling pools, but not quite enough for foreign travel, but it didn’t matter, because they lived in paradise.”Lisa Jewell’s newest release, The House We Grew Up In, is a poignant and absorbing story about the Bird family. As children, Megan, Bethan and twins, Rory and Rhys, delighted in their mother’s sense of whimsy, the kitchen walls papered with their artwork, and the annual Easter egg hunt in the garden. But as adolescence strikes, the children have less patience for their mother’s eccentricities, and the family bond begins to chafe. When tragedy strikes one Easter Sunday the family is devastated and as each member struggles to make sense of it, they turn away from each other and eventually go their separate ways. Years later, the remaining Bird family members gather at the house they grew up in and are confronted by old hurts, resentments and unresolved guilt.The House We Grew Up In spans a time frame of about thirty years and shifts back and forth to reveal the Bird’s past and present, unfurling a complex tale of a family fractured by suicide, betrayal, adultery and mental illness. Their childhood home, once a comfortable, cosy haven becomes the physical manifestation of the dysfunction and turmoil which affects the family.Each individual has their own secrets to tell that are teased out over the course of the novel. Jewell’s characters are realistically portrayed, though their flaws, from Lorelei’s obsessive hoarding to Rory’s irresponsibility, are more clearly in focus. The dynamics that play out between the family, as well as various lovers and friends, are believable and observed with keen insight into the complications of these relationships.Heartfelt, provocative and powerful The House We Grew Up In is an engaging novel, well crafted by an accomplished author.
  • (4/5)
    I have gotten to a point in my life where I am going through my things and getting rid of stuff. I feel weighed down by it and realize that most of it doesn't need to be in my house and my life. This does not apply to my books, of course, although I am getting more discerning about what I keep on my permanent shelves there too. This desire to pare down and divest is the exact opposite of someone who hoards, who feels the need to anchor themselves in things, to continually acquire and squirrel away possessions. But hoarders are more than just people who want stuff. They have something in them, some deep hurt, some mental illness that compels them to compulsive collecting. Seeing the genesis and the result of such a hard thing is at the center of Lisa Jewell's newest novel, The House We Grew Up In. Opening with an email from Lorelei Bird to an internet love interest named Jim, the email introduces the matriarch of the Bird family in her own words and through her own eyes. Just as quickly, then comes the contrast of what Megan Bird thinks of her mother and what she and her teenaged daughter expect to see when they open the door to the once charming but now dilapidated Cotswold cottage of her childhood. It is so much worse than they ever expected, a solid wall of stuff with only narrow and winding paths through it to the rest of the house, equally packed from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. Lorelei Bird was a hoarder, unable and unwilling to pare anything out of her life and now the crumbling house stuffed to the brim mirrors the cracks and secretly nurtured layers of guilt in this dysfunctional family. But how did the present happen? The Birds used to be a fun and appealing family with planned Easter egg hunts every year, a kitchen full of children's drawings, and a cozy feeling of love in the golden time before. Colin supported Lorelei's whimsy and their four children, Megan, Bethan, and twins Rory and Rhys benefitted from her childlike enthusiasms. But even then, Lorelei's quirky eccentricities carried the seed of something more. And in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy of the Easter of 1981, what was whimsical became sad, eccentricity edged into mental illness, and not one person in this now dysfunctional family was left unchanged and untouched. Each member of the family carries a load of guilt and each of them manifests that guilt in their own way, all of them ending up mostly estranged from the others. The narrative alternates between past and present, slowly exposing the cracks and rifts of the present and terrible truth of the past. In between the two different narratives are Lorelei's emails to Jim, allowing her to tell her side of things, giving her uniquely positive spin, a spin that grows cautiously more honest, opening Lorelei up to face her own demons as time goes on. As the Birds gather to unload Lorelei's house, they excavate not only their own shared past but also the hurts they've long carried. And while Lorelei might have spent much of her adult life buried in things, the rest of them have also been buried, just in guilt and jealousy and anger rather than possessions. Some of the things that happen in the Bird family belong on a sensational talk show, a woman leaving her husband for another woman, a father having a relationship with his son's ex, and a sister having an affair with her brother-in-law and if they are unbelievable on a trashy talk show, they are strangely believable here in this sad and destroyed family. Jewell has written an insightful and engrossing tale of a family slowly sinking under the weight of Lorelei's possessions and under all of each person's sadness and secrets. They are changed forever by adultery, mental illness, suicide, and the messiness of relationships. The pacing is consistent and the narrative tension is steady, with both the mystery of the tragedy that changed the family tantalizingly kept under wraps as long as possible and the question of what happened to Lorelei and how the house got into such a state also revealed slowly and deliberately. The characters are realistic and well rounded, neither all good nor all bad, even if the reader does side with some over others. This is an engrossing tale, well delivered and I defy you to want to hold onto more things once you've closed the cover.
  • (4/5)
    The House We Grew Up In opens with Meg standing outside her childhood home with her daughter, Molly. Her mother, Lorelei, has died and they are there to clean up the mess she left behind. When set beside its neighbours in this beautiful part of the Cotswolds, ‘it was clear that this house had a disease’.But it hadn’t always been that way. Megan remembers her childhood as perfect, a time when she, her three siblings, Bethan and twins Rhys and Rory, and her parents, Lorelei and Colin ‘lived in a honey-colored house’ and Lorelei, beautiful and carefree, was the centre around which they all revolved.It all changed when sixteen-year-old Rhys was found hanged. There was no note and his suicide became the touch point for each of their lives. Lorelei threw Colin out and moved Vicky, their next-door neighbour in along with her two daughters but despite how much Vicky loved and cared for Lorry even she couldn’t stop her downward spiral into hoarding. Meg moved in with Bill and became obsessed with cleaning; Beth began a long affair with Bill but eventually, consumed with guilt and shame, broke it off to move to Australia with a younger man; and Rory moved to a commune in Spain with his girlfriend only to desert her and his infant daughter to move to Thailand where he would eventually end up in prison for drug dealing. What had started out as such promising lives had all been destroyed by Rhys’ suicide. Now, as the family unites after so many years apart, cleaning up the vast hoard of stuff that had consumed Lorelei after Rhys’ death, they slowly begin to piece together what happened and as they share their sense of grief and guilt, they may finally be able to become the family they once had the potential to be.The book moves back and forth in time starting on Easter Sunday 1981 and ending in 2011 as we are told the story in flashbacks of their lives as well as through emails that Lorelei is writing to a man named Jim in the last months of her life. This is a haunting, emotionally charged, and beautifully drawn portrait of a family unraveling after a tragedy and their attempts to bring it all back together again. The characters are all flawed but it is impossible not to feel compassion for them even or perhaps especially Lorelei as the family and we finally learn what really happened to Rhys and begin to understand what is behind her hoarding. We also finally learn the tragedy of her own death. The House We Grew Up In is an engrossing read about family dynamics and how they can be warped by tragedy. It is the kind of story that keeps you up at night and reading into the wee small hours making you feel both moved and exasperated by the characters who will remain with you long after you have finished the last page.
  • (4/5)
    follows family of hoarder from childhood into adulthood.
  • (4/5)
    In the beginning, I was not expecting much from this book. The story of a house and its family sounds pretty hum drum, but "The House We Grew Up In" was far from than that. A very painful event removes much of the joy that was once a part of this family. Each of the characters responds differently to their loss. The house is in the center of the story since it is there where the original crisis occurs. This event precipitates a downward spiral for each of the family members. The author also introduces an extreme case of hoarding into this story. It is actually one of the prominent topics of the book. I found this to be one of the most interesting as well since she describes the progression of this illness in one of the characters. Ms. Jewell creates this multi-faceted wreck of a family and ultimately turns their story into an amazing read.This book was difficult to read at times because of the dark subject matter, but the author really made use of excellent writing technique that kept me motivated to read on to the conclusion. In spite of the dysfunction within this family, Ms. Jewell focuses plenty of attention on the tie that binds any family: that of love. This is a family that cares about one another and the ending is appropriate and yet unpredictable. There was little in this story that didn't work. It may have been a bit heavy in some places, but the character weaknesses eventually are overcome by their strengths. I recommend this title to lovers of modern fiction. Its setting is England, but it could take place anywhere. It is full of powerful topics that will spark your imagination and trigger a desire to reach the conclusion. It would make an excellent book for a book club or reading group. There are many points that could trigger opinions and good discussion.Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title. It really surprised me in a pleasant way.
  • (4/5)
    I had no idea what I was getting into with this book. I liked the cover, it's about a family with issues. Good enough for me. It is really about the perfect-looking family that cracked in the most unbelievable ways and then found their way back together in very different ways. I loved the writing style, down to Earth, easy to read, every character had their own voice. There were many characters and jumps through time, and yet I was not that confused. When the Bird family starts out, they seem perfectly normal. Lorelai, the mother a free-spirit who like to keep things around her to preserve memories, Colin, the level-headed father and four children. Two girls, two boys, Megan the opposite of her mother, serious and clean, Bethan, beautiful and faithful, and twin boys Rory and Rhys, polar opposites, Rory popular and outspoken, Rhys quiet and misunderstood. One Easter, all of their world's will be changed and the perfect Bird family will go on their imperfect, separate ways. Since the writing jumps back and forth through time, we know that things go very wrong early on. We know that the family is estranged. The point of the story is to see why everything collapsed and how everyone came back together. The different points of view made it really interesting for me. There were also many different issues covered, mental illness, suicide, adultery, homosexuality, drugs and of course, forgiveness. This is definitely one to read if you think that your family is messed up. The only thing more I wanted out of this book was a little more from Rhys' point of view to really tie things together. This book was provided for free in return for an honest review.
  • (5/5)
    Such a beautiful book. at times it rips your heart our and steps on it, but at other times you feel the love the characters have for each other eminating of the paper. A very powerful story about a hoarder and her 4 children, although there's a lot more to it than that. Meg, Beth, Rory and Rhys are the Bird children, children of Lorelie and Colin, we get to visit them yearly, and also see the present, get a window into their world. Then we get to see a broken family be put back together again, and all of the emotions tied to then falling out in the first place. Really a beautiful book.
  • (4/5)
    It was an easy read and I finished it in one sitting. The book keeps you reading because the flow never stops going forward. It deals with some heavy, emotional themes without coming off as maudlin. I loved the way the book came full circle considering the sheer amount of psychological issues that it had to deal with. I would recommend you read this novel.
  • (5/5)
    I simply could not put this down. the characters are well developed and the family situations are intriguing
  • (5/5)
    Masterly woven. At first the bouncing around the time line was confusing but then it made perfect sense.
  • (4/5)
    A truly lovely book. I loved it. Looking forward to reading more of Ms. Jewels books.
  • (4/5)
    The House We Grew Up In was a good read, however I felt like it was too dramatic for my liking. Yes, life is dramatic and in many cases the scenarios written in the book happen to everyday people. But, still, in my point of view, there was a bit too much drama happening at one time. Still a good read! I would still recommend it to others.
  • (4/5)
    Once you get past the beginning, it becomes much more engrossing. She’s a very descriptive writer which really adds depth and vibrancy to her writing. Yet, at times it can be wordy and make for some difficult reading. If the book had been a bit more capturing in the beginning and if perhaps the ending was less anticlimactic, I would have rated a 5/5. It honestly was a good read though just be prepared for many hot topics such as suicide, incest and hoarding.