The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Atria 
Publication Date: August 12, 2014
Source: Atria for SheReads

She Reads has chosen The House We Grew Up In as one of their Books of Fall.


Meet the Bird family. They live in a simple brick house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching just beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together each night. Everybody in town gushes over the two girls, who share their mother’s apple cheeks and wide smiles. Of the boys, lively, adventurous Rory can stir up trouble, moving through life more easily than little Rhys, his slighter, more sensitive counterpart. Their father is a sweet gangly man, but it’s their mother, Lorelei, a beautiful free spirit with long flowing hair and eyes full of wonder, who spins at the center. 

Time flies in those early years when the kids are still young. Lorelei knows that more than anyone, doing her part to freeze time by protecting the precious mementos she collects, filling the house with them day by day. Easter egg foils are her favorite. Craft supplies, too. She insists on hanging every single piece of art ever produced by any of the children, to her husband’s chagrin. 

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy occurs. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass and the children have become adults, found new relationships, and, in Meg’s case, created families of their own. Lorelei has become the county’s worst hoarder. She has alienated her husband, her children, and has been living as a recluse for six years. It seems as though they’d never been The Bird Family at all, as if loyalty were never on the table. But then something happens that calls them home, back to the house they grew up in–and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago. 

About the Author

Delving deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the gripping story of a family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

My Thoughts:

I gobbled this book right up! It was one of those books that came along at the right time with the exact message that I needed to read.

You might hear people say that this book is about hoarding. While it is part of the story it’s about so much more than that. Does a character have a hoarding issue? Oh, yes. Does it impact every one of the characters? Yes, definitely. But it’s only one of the issues that drives these people to do the things that they do.

What brought this book to life for me were the characters. Every one of them is so authentic you could nearly see them step off the page. I felt as if I knew them, as if I understood them. To be honest, so many of them seemed like members of my own family that it was almost disconcerting. I could feel my anger rising at Lorelei as she isolated herself and forced her family members to take actions that they didn’t want to take. She left people absolutely no choice. I’ve been there.

I know a Lorelei. I’d wager that you know a Lorelei. She’s the strange relative that we love and loathe in equal measure. She’s the woman that we wish would get her life in order, if only to make us feel more comfortable. She’s also one of the most fascinating literary characters I’ve had the pleasure to meet.

This was an impressive read that made me think about my own issues and prejudices. It made me uncomfortable and angry in the way that only the best books can. I highly recommend it.

13 thoughts on “The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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