APDO Book Club: The House We Grew Up In

I listened to this novel because it’s the next APDO Book Club book. I’ve read some of Lisa Jewell’s crime stories before and was aware she also writes family fiction, but I hadn’t read any as it’s not my preferred genre.

It was superbly researched and written, but I did find it unremittingly grim. It tells the story of a family whose life is blighted by the mother’s extreme hoarding disorder, and we watch the children grow up, encounter difficulties in their own lives, lose contact with each other and then pull together after their Mum dies and they have to clear her house, which they’ve been told by the authorities is the worst in the county as far as hoarding is concerned.

I’ve worked with collectors – specifically book collectors – my whole career, and the difference between someone who loves their objects as an extension of themselves and someone like the protagonist, Lorelai, who loses any sense of self and basically buries themselves behind a lot of stuff, is quite marked. I know some APDO members specialise in working with hoarding disordered clients and so I’ll be interested in hearing their experiences at the Book Club.

The worst part of the book for me was the ending. I think it was supposed to be happy, but I felt miserable that everything could only progress in their lives once their mother had actually died. Just made her life seem even more of a waste.

Still, a well-written book that I’m sure will be more enjoyable if you like family fiction generally.