Book Review: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

This is a book I picked up purely for its gorgeous cover:

I love how simple it is, and it really pulled me in while I was at the library. We often say to never judge a book by its cover, but the reason for covers is to draw in the eye toward something that may be magnificent.

Let’s talk about the plot: Megan, Bethan, Rory and Rhys grew up with the perfect childhood, fostered by their mother, Lorelei. Told through a series of flashbacks, the book chronicles their mothers slow growing mental health issues related to hoarding, and how it slowly but surely tears the family apart. After the mothers death, it becomes the children’s task to rebuild their house and clear through the mass quantity of things their mother has accumulated over the course of their lifetime.

Describing this book, the words I want to use (slow, atmospheric, character driven) are in stark contrast to the actual reading adventure this book brings you on. There is so much…muchness to this book, but the reader never feels lost or as though they need to look back upon the previous chapter to pick up another nuance.

While the story primarily follows Megan, the oldest, through her character journey as a daughter and a parent herself, the other siblings are well fleshed out, and if not lovable, then interesting and engaging.

What struck me about this was the fact that despite the book having very clear sourness and negativity toward Lorelei, she doesn’t come off as the “bad guy.” In fact, despite literally every character in this novel doing reprehensible things, none of them come off as bad or wrong throughout the book. They are acting out of their screwed up situation, and how their mothers mental health as affected them growing up.

This novel is one of many that I am currently reading that stems from a genre of novel focused on “adult children of aging parents trying to figure out how to be and exist as people without their parents.” May not actually be a genre, but that seems to be what I want to read at the moment. And I have to say, I really, genuinely enjoyed this book. It’s a wonderful piece of literary fiction, and it compelled me to pick up everything else my library had by Lisa Jewell.

Happy reading, my friends!


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