The House We Grew Up In

It’s been some time since I read a book cover to cover without skipping most of the narrative; this is one of those books.

In an English village lies the Bird House, in which the Bird family lives an idyllic existence. Mother, Lorelei, a happy hippy, and father, Colin, present a fairytale childhood for their four children – Megan, Bethan, and twins Rory and Rhys. They celebrate Easter yearly, with egg hunts in the garden, and rainbow-filled afternoons of love and laughter. But one Easter afternoon, a tragedy happens – one of the twins was found hanging from his bedroom ceiling.

The family is torn apart from this incident with each of them dealing with the loss in their own way. In particular is Lorelei, who does not grieve and who barely cried when her “youngest baby”, as she called him, died. However, since that Easter day, Lorelei fills up her picture-postcard home with “momentos” of everything and anything, which eventually amounts to “the worst case of hoarding in England”, to the point that it has devastating impact on her husband and children. Meanwhile, the family members blame one other for the suicide as they come to terms with the loss. The tale unfolds and  readers are taken through the dark secrets that each of the family members has.

Estranged, the family is brought together once again reluctantly later in the book by the death of Lorelei, whereby they are forced once again to confront and accept one another, and their pasts.

An unexpected good read, and one of the best from Lisa Jewell.


Reviewed by Yasmin Ally, Tampines Regional Library