The House We Grew Up In (12 August 2014) by Lisa Jewell

The House We Grew Up InThe House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I would like to thank Atria books for my advance reader’s copy of The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell.
I have struggled with writing a review of this novel, attempting several times to put into words my impressions and opinions.
My hopes were that it would be an atmospheric family saga reminiscent of The Secret of the Tides by Hannah Richell. While The House We Grew Up In was also a multi-generational account of the secrets of an English family, for me, this novel was consistently depressing.
One reason for this was the melodramatic events of the novel. In fact, several of the main characters state that their lives seems almost unbelievable. Every imaginable scandal-from betrayal, to affairs, to hidden mental illness, to drugs and death, befall the unlucky Bird family in the 30 years and 400 pages of the novel.
The other reason I felt depressed by the story was because, without exception, pretty much all of the characters are self-absorbed, and wallowing in, as well as creating, much of the drama in their own lives. I have no problem with the concept of unlikeable characters in a novel; in fact, some of my very favorite suspense novels contain characters with major flaws.
I think unlikeable, or just plain creepy, characters, can work very well when they serve to give us a sense of unease, black humor, or to vicariously give us a good scare. However, when the characters are meant to be relatable, I have a difficult time feeling invested in them if those characters are people who I would avoid in real life.
Ultimately, although The House We Grew Up In was not poorly written, I found it to be a discouraging tale, with a “healing” conclusion that was brief and unfortunately, unconvincing.

View all my reviews

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