The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell Genre: Mystery, Family Drama Positives: + Has the usual hallmarks of a Lisa Jewell that make a compelling mystery story. + Varied characters. + Balanced look at the impact of guilt & hoarding on the whole family. Negatives: - The mystery lacked twists or a climax. Really more of a family history. - I didn‘t care for any of the characters. - Lorelie herself I found more annoying than charming!
3 Stars,  Mini Reviews

Mini Review | The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

⭐⭐⭐ 3/5 Stars – Another reliably gripping mystery story, but turned out to be lacking in twists and a little anti-climactic

Format: Audiobook (via BorrowerBox)

Read: September 2023

This is now my third Lisa Jewell after The Night She Disappeared and Invisible Girl. I still really enjoyed listening to it, and at times I was really gripped by the way that the story unfolded but in the end, I found the mystery “secret” was a little obvious and weak, and there were very few twists that were not heavily signposted earlier in the book. It just felt anti-climatic, and this novel is more of a family drama than a mystery thriller.

The elements that I loved are really the same as I have found in the other two books. Lisa Jewell knows how to frame a gripping mystery and spin it around the complex relationships of distinct characters. This one focuses on family dysfunction caused by holding onto guilt and unacknowledged trauma. This begins with the mother’s hoarding compulsion, but of course, that is not the whole story.

What did not work for me in this one was:

  • The lack of compelling twists or any dramatic climax to the story made the mystery “family secret” feel directionless. I didn’t like that Reece ended up as a throwaway character, we never learned why he had the issues that he did.
  • The attempt to tie up some of the background threads by way of explanation for Lorelie being as she was didn’t really work for me, felt like a stretch.
  • All the family characters are deeply flawed and broken but also none of them are likeable people. Almost all of them exhibit damaging selfish behaviours. It was just too many people being shitty to each other, and not just every day shitty – the things they do are hard to fathom for any reasonable person! The fact that it was every single one of them made it tough to stay invested when I wasn’t rooting for anyone. The exception might be Meg, but then I found her so cold and largely emotionless.
  • Lorelei was particularly cloying and frustrating. Even in her “good” days, she was too much for me! Her letters to her pen-pal/boyfriend Jim were very cringe.

It’s still entertaining and I generally had a good time with this audiobook, but it’s not as good as the other two I’ve read! I felt relieved when it finished.

Have you read this one?

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