Thursday, October 09, 2014

Review: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell (audio)

Title: The House We Grew Up In    
Author: Lisa Jewell      
Narrator: Karina Fernandez
Published: September 2013, Whole Story Audiobooks (audio)/August 2014, Atria Books (print)
Length: 13 hours, 25 minutes
Source: Audio copy via Audible / Netgalley via She Reads

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.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family's desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

My thoughts: This is one of the four books that the She Reads gals selected to be part of the "Books of Fall" book club selections and I was thrilled with this particular choice. I had read Lisa Jewell's last book and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to this one.

What I've found with Lisa's books is that they are great character sketches. She really explores the dynamics of relationships, in this case the relationships between a family that has had to deal with an unexpected tragedy. But it's not just the tragedy that's highlighted here. She also looks at the dysfunction that exists within this family. 

The story alternates between the present and the past, filling in bits and pieces of the overall story much like memories that come back to us when we see a certain object. It is through these memories that we really get to know the Bird family. The emotions that Lisa is able to elicit in her writing are so raw that I felt as if I was celebrating the happy occasions with the family as well as feeling their sorrow during the sad times. 

And then there was Lorelei...right from the beginning you pick up that she is a hoarder. She keeps everything and it only gets worse as time goes on. This is what has stayed with me the most since finishing the book. What makes someone become this way? But what I find most fascinating is that Lisa presents the topic of hoarding from both sides. At times, I found myself relating to Lorelei and her thought processes and believe me, I am most definitely not a hoarder!

This is a great read, one that I found myself thinking about when I wasn't listening to and completely engaged in while I was listening to it. The characters all seemed relatable and the story really made me think about the relationships I have with my own family. Another winner by Lisa Jewell and now I can't wait to read her other books!

Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Karina Fernandez narrate a book and I thought she did a great job with all the voices and different accents. She was delightful to listen to and I will certainly be looking to see what else she has narrated.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell is one of the She Reads "Books of Fall" reading selection picks.
Head over to the She Reads website to read reviews and related posts of this book, as well as to see what the other "Books of Fall" are. 


  1. I will have to put Karina on my narrators to try list. I think this book is probably a little to straight fiction for me but I will have to mention it to my mom!

  2. I was surprised by how much I liked this book given the hoarder theme. It's the first of Lisa Jewell's books I've read and I look forward to reading more. I also listened (used an audible credit when I couldn't find the time to sit and read my galley). Really enjoyed the narrator!

  3. Another positive review for this book. It is on my TBR list.

  4. I have this one in my wish list at Audible and now that you have given your thoughts on the audio version, this is the way I will definitely read it.

  5. Definitely one for my TBR list!

  6. This sounds like a book I should read. No, I'm not a hoarder, but I can understand why someone would become one. Terrific review! I would love to read or listen to this book.

  7. I really need to get to this one. It's been languishing in my TBR stack. I don't think I've seen a negative review on it yet!

  8. I really liked this book! Just discovered your blog, and was excited to see your review of this one.


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