Saturday, September 19, 2015

Did You Ever Have a Family; Bill Clegg

Simon & Schuster - 2015

Such a powerful book and definitely not a feel-good story.

A few hours before the garden wedding of Lolly Reid and Will Landis was to take place at the home of Lolly's mother June, an explosion and fire destroys the home and kills those inside.

Left to deal with the aftermath is 52 year-old June Reid who must bury her daughter, an only child with whom she had been working on repairing their relationship.  Her future son-in-law, Will, her ex-husband Adam, as well as June's much younger boyfriend Luke were also killed in the fire.

After the funerals June leaves Connecticut and heads west in an attempt to deal with her grief. She takes a room at an inn where her daughter Lolly had once stayed, and spends her days mostly in isolation as she rehashes her imperfect past and her shattered present.

The narrative is told in multiple POV from several individuals both small and large who were connected to and affected by the tragedy and its aftermath. June's story is told in both the past and present.  And, if the tragedy wasn't terrible enough, the narrative reveals even deeper, more painful conflicts and transgressions that fractured some relationships even before the explosion.  All of this, of course, leads to even more guilt, regrets, and grief for June.

A sad and depressing story told in a bold attention grabbing way, there were no feel good moments, but yet there were a few unexpected glimmers of hope that could be felt through the kindness of others.  

4.5/5 stars
(eGalley) 


17 comments:

  1. Have this on my wishlist and hope to read it soon. Sounds very good, though melancholy.

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  2. Everyone is loving this book even though it's on the sad side. I can't wait to read it.

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  3. I have this one on my list too, but I'm thinking I'll have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. Sometimes, sad books work well for me and then other times, I need something else.

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    1. You definitely need to pick the right time to read this one Kay.

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  4. Sounds perfect for a book group discussion. While I don't belong to one I'd definitely read it on my own. I appreciate your thoughts, Diane.

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    1. It would make an excellent discussion book Mary. I meant to mention that LOL

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  5. Sounds like it must be good even through the sadness.

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  6. This is my next book and I've heard nothing but great things about it...looking forward to it!

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  7. Just picked this up from the library yesterday and will read it as soon as I finish the last Ferrante - can't wait! Even though it's sad, I expect to love it.

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  8. I completely agree with "a sad and depressing story" yet compared to A Little Life this was a harbinger of hope! No, not really. I'm surprised when I read heavily for the literature award long lists, such as I did for the Man Booker this year and the IFFP. They are absolutely filled with books that are nothing but despair, and I think, "Is this all that comprises life?" For many people, probably yes, but I hate to be that grim. I've had terrible things happen in my life, but my faith and the protection I feel from Him always comforts me. Which I hope doesn't sound too trite on a book review response. xo

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  9. I completely agree with "a sad and depressing story" yet compared to A Little Life this was a harbinger of hope! No, not really. I'm surprised when I read heavily for the literature award long lists, such as I did for the Man Booker this year and the IFFP. They are absolutely filled with books that are nothing but despair, and I think, "Is this all that comprises life?" For many people, probably yes, but I hate to be that grim. I've had terrible things happen in my life, but my faith and the protection I feel from Him always comforts me. Which I hope doesn't sound too trite on a book review response. xo

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    1. Yes, this was a downer, but in no way could it ever compare to the feeling I had while reading "A Little Life". That one just haunted me each time I closed the book.

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