Feb 27, 2015

Book Review: THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN by Lisa Jewell

Meme: Visit Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader for other books.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell, published August 12, 2014; Atria Books. Genre: contemporary novel, women's fiction.

Book beginning:

The damp heat came as a shock after the chill of the air conditioning that had cooled the care 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."

Important themes: extreme hoarding syndrome, personality disorder, dysfunctional family relationships, and infidelity.

The plot:
Lorelei made sure her husband Bill and her children Megan, Beth, and the twin bosy Rory and Rhys had an idyllic childhood, She upheld rituals, one being the Easter ritual of Easter eggs hunts, lamb dinner, wine for the adults. Thing were perfect but as the children grew older, Lorelei began to show the cracks in the seams of their perfect life.

She became more and more of a pack rat, a hoarder who insisted on all the Easter egg shiny wrappers kept year after year, for instance, who shopped regularly for dozens of unwanted goods that were never used, and who later even began to fill the house with newspapers and books. Nothing was ever thrown away, not even when they became soiled or were falling apart.

The lives of the children and her husband were also affected. And the house held a secret under all the trash that was only uncovered at the end of the book, after Lorelei's death. A secret that had affected Lorelei's life and impacted the rest of her family.

I was fascinated by this story of the gradual decay of a house and a woman who succumbed to her psychological hoarding disorder, who hid her secrets and only revealed them to an unknown email friend towards the end of her life. The characters learned acceptance of their own feelings and lives and were able to  live with each other's secrets and lives in the end.

I thought that the novel could have been a bit shorter as I was impatient for the story to wind down and the situations be resolved somewhat sooner. I admit I flipped through some of the final pages to get to the end. Overall, an interesting read that handles difficult subjects extremely well.

Objective rating: 4.5/5.

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book. 


Gilion at Rose City Reader said...

It sounds really interesting. Although now I just want to know what the secret is!

I haven't been leaving comments for awhile, but I appreciate you participating in BBOF. Thanks!

Kay said...

I've seen this book around in the last few months. Still trying to decide if I will pick it up. The beginning is pretty interesting and along with whole hoarding aspect. Maybe soon. Thanks for sharing!

Sandra Nachlinger said...

This sounds like my kind of book -- maybe because I'm in danger of becoming a hoarder of books and fabric scraps (for quilting). I'm curious about what led the woman to become a hoarder and what secret will be revealed.
My Friday post features A QUILT FOR CHRISTMAS.

Katherine P said...

This book has been on my TBR for awhile and I think your review just pushed it up the list! I love the excerpt. Thanks for sharing!

Anne@HeadFullofBooks said...

My mother-in-law was a hoarder, of sorts. It was really sad and pathetic. Anne's Friday Quotes

Suko said...

The cover of this book is wonderful. I'm interested in reading this at some point in time. Thank you for your honest review, Harvee. I am enjoying the clean, minimalistic look of your blog.

Harvee said...

I'm resorting my basement and my books, giving away some. I don't want to be a hoarder!

Brian Joseph said...

It seems that society has been very interested in the phenomena of hoarding lately. I will admit that it is very interesting.

I can see how such a story can make for such interesting fiction.

Unknown said...

Great review Harvee. I enjoyed this book too. Good luck with resorting. We have plenty of that to do here.

The Bookworm said...

Even with the minor qualms you mentioned, this sounds very good. The hoarding theme is fascinating.

Harvee said...

The template that I really like that you also like, Suko, gives me trouble so I have reverted to this one. I am often unable to access the desktop to post on the blog, for instance and have to go through another blog of mine, Wood Water Garden, to get to the blog on the template. This one
seems to work much better..

I Thought You Said This Would Work by Ann Garvin: Sunday Salon

  The title of this book  made me choose it, and I'm not disappointed so far. I Thought You Said This Would Work   by Ann Garvin Publish...