The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell focuses on the devastating effects on a family living with a hoarder. Lorelai, the mother of 4 children, is a hoarder and she cannot help herself. She describes herself as a sixty-five-year-old woman who lives in the pretty village of Cotswolds in a “big, crazy old house full of what I call TREASURES and what my children call CRAP.”
The novel centers around Lorelai who gives her perspective through email correspondences with someone she has met online. These emails provide insight and details to what she thinks and feels. The story also, alternates chapters by the present and the past. This makes it a little choppy and confusing especially in the early part of the book. Once I settled in and found the rhythm, I was hooked. I enjoyed Jewell’s descriptions of the beautiful idyllic countryside and of the dark and sad side of hoarding. I didn’t love the book, but I enjoyed it and found it interesting. I have a new understanding of how collecting and sadness when combined can spiral out of control.
Here is a snippet from when Lorelai’s oldest daughter Megan confronts her mother to understand why she is living in an uninhabitable house filled floor to ceiling with stuff and barely enough space for one person to move from room to the next. When Megan sees cases of infant milk stacked in the hallway that expired 3 years ago and asks “why”.
“Because buying it brought me pleasure. Because I stood in a shop and saw it and thought of my babies and your babies and your visits and imagined myself with a little Stan, or a little Alf on my lap, drinking the milk that I bought them, and I imagined you smiling and saying. ‘Thank you, Mummy, what a brilliant idea.’ And all the things I thought when I looked at the milk and bought the milk were good things. And if I throw the milk away then I’m throwing away all those good things I thought and felt when I bought it.”
Megan sighed. Her mother’s view of the world was an impenetrable wall. “Empty food packaging?”
“Ah, yes” – her mother smiled mischievously –” there you have a point, darling. I really do need to get on top of that…”
Read more from this review by Kirkus.
I'm an expert amateur or maybe an amateur expert.