The House We Grew Up In
by Lisa Jewell
Easter Sunday was always a special day for the Bird family. Lorelei, eccentric mother of four, not only planned extravagant egg hunts but insisted on saving every foil egg wrapper for future craft projects . . . as well as every single piece of her children’s art created with the foils . . . and every scrap of material evidence of what she considered an idyllic and even charmed life. As Lorelei collects mementos, the Bird house soon becomes a hoarder’s haven; a place of storage for obsessive buying binges, material evidence of past pleasures and a place to bury family secrets and hurts.
But one unforgettable Easter, the Birds suffer such a devastating blow that it begins to unravel the family. The tragedy and their home becomes a tomb that the adult Bird children must either escape or, if they stay, risk becoming another ‘item’ for Lorelei to hoard. As the years pass, Lorelei becomes a recluse. Colin, her husband and the children’s father seals himself away in another part of the house and life in general. The adult Bird children grow into a life where they wrestle with failed relationships, flawed selves, and the torments of that Easter tragedy.Jewell’s novel weaves a reckless path through a story that is full of both material and emotional clutter. She is a wonderful storyteller who paints compelling characters who struggle desperately to be a family and, despite the wayward paths they take, never give up the effort. At first the story made me feel claustrophobic and a bit hopeless. But, the compelling characters kept me pushing on and by the end, I felt that I had met a family who had really overcome their differences and passed hurts and discovered what it is to be family.