My first reaction to finishing this book was to audibly sigh (my flatmate was mildly confused and my cat scarpered). The House We Grew Up In is the second Lisa Jewell book I’ve read in a month and I loved it even more than I loved The Third Wife. This review will contain a spoiler because there are things I just have to talk about, said spoiler occurs roughly a tenth of the way into the plot. So… Beware of spoiler!
My first impression of this book was that it was going to involve one of my favourite niche genres- old people getting up to mischief. It was so much more than that. It was all of my worst fears about myself fictionalised, it was all of my fears about other people fictionalised. I am completely in love with it. The story evolved so beautifully; from Lorelai being the sentimental hoarder who is so fearful of change that she fails to notice her youngest son has hung himself in his bedroom (the epitome of my fears, by the way. There was a time in life, before I forced myself to chane, where I could have turned into her and I remember and fear those times quite vividly). To a family undoing years of hurt and fears and resentment to come together after her death.
We’re teased with emails from Lorelai, four days dead at present, to her new online friend and as her communications with him get more personal, more and more of the Bird Family’s past secret unfurl. Each of her emails are half-truths, until we know the full and complex picture of her family gone awry. Their story is sordid, and selfish, and full of mistakes. But it is also full of forgiveness and love and trying to make amends for those mistakes. It was very beautiful.
Go, go read this book. I cannot recommend it enough.