The House We Grew Up In

  • by Lisa Jewell
  • Narrated by Karina Fernandez
  • 13 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Bird children have an idyllic childhood: a picture-book cottage in a country village, a warm, cosy kitchen filled with love and laughter, sun-drenched afternoons in a rambling garden. But one Easter weekend a tragedy strikes the Bird family that is so devastating it tears them apart.
Many years later something will call them home, back to the house they grew up in - and to what really happened that Easter weekend all those years ago.

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What the Critics Say

"Poignant, heart-wrenching & beautifully told, the author's best tale yet.” (Sun)
“Beautiful, moving and unputdownable” Jojo Moyes on Before I Met You)
“Jewell has moved up a gear into David Nicholl’s territory” (Bookseller on The Making of Us)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Dysfunctional Squared!

This book could have been dismissed as a huge joke if it wasn’t so well written. I was hooked almost from the start and by the time I was about a third of the way in, I found it hard to put down.

I loved the story of this impossibly dysfunctional family, and the characters were surprisingly so believable even after one over-the-top-preposterous-plot-twist after another!

I can’t possibly describe this story in any way that does not make it sound crazy and ridiculous so I won’t – just trust me; it was great!
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- Simone

The House We Grew Up In

Oh how I loved this story! I purchased the book as a Kindle/Audible Audio version but to be completely honest I didn't read a page. The narrator (Karina Fernandez) was so spectacular that I wanted nothing more than to listen to her weave the story with each character's individual personality and voice and had trouble pulling myself away when I had to get anything else done. That isn't to say the story itself isn't as wonderful as the narration. This was a perfect combination of an excellent story and the right narrator able to pull off the complicated emotions and circumstances it presented.

The story weaves back and forth in time, from Meg, the oldest Bird child, her daughter and, eventually, her father, sister and brother Rory, cleaning out their mother Lorelei's home back to various Easter weekends over the course of their lives. When we first meet Meg in 2011 we discover that Lorelei was a hoarder (think of the worst possible episode of Hoarders and you'll have a good idea of how badly she lived). As we go back in time we see her sickness evolve from a sort of whimsical, free spirited quirkiness into a brutal, sometimes aggressive need to keep everything until there is literally walls of junk and only one chair she can sit in. She pushes everyone away and refuses to bend or compromise with anyone. This sickness, along with the tragic incident that happened one Easter, pushes each member of the Bird family in opposite directions and effects how each of them develops as a person. We get to see each character battle with their guilt and lack of control and the author really does an astonishing job of presenting the heartache and damage done to them (and that they do to each other) by the circumstances of their lives. We get to see first hand the vicious cycle of mental and, in some cases, physical damage that can cause generations to pass on this sort of problem even as they swear they will be different.

The story also incorporates the email correspondence between Lorelei and an online romantic interest and it is within this correspondence that we get to peek inside Lorelei's scarred heart and mind and see how her life imploded from her own point of view. We learn what really happened that one horrible Easter and her attempts to try and fight her mental illness as much as she can. These parts really broke my heart! The narrator does such a great job of inflecting a false happiness into Lorelei's words as the listener can hear the pain and sadness crack through. Even though Lorelei had hurt those she said she loved most, quite badly at times, I couldn't help wanting to give this fictional character a hug and try to help her. Even being done with the story I still can't get her out of my head!

While I know this sounds just horribly sad it isn't all bad. We do get a sense that things could be different in the future for some of the Birds, if they are willing to get help and help each other heal and move on. Regardless of where these characters might have gone after the story technically ended, the time spent with each of them was quite the journey. I'm always amazed when an author can make me truly feel for their fictional characters and Lisa Jewell definitely did that. I am so excited to see what else she has to offer!
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- Colleen T.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-05-2013
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks