Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Family Upstairs

Title:  The Family Upstairs
Author:  Lisa Jewell
Publication Information:  Atria Books. 2019. 352 pages.
ISBN:  1501190105 / 978-1501190100
Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "It would be inaccurate to say that my childhood was normal before they came."

Favorite Quote:  "They weren't bad books ... They were books you didn't enjoy. It's not the same thing at all. The only bad books are books that are so badly written that no one will publish them. Any book that has been published is going to be a 'good book' for someone."

Libby Jones turn twenty-five and inherits a house. Not just any house, but a house from her past. The house itself has a disturbing history. Twenty-five years ago, the police arrived at the house. They found three dead bodies and a happy, healthy baby. Four other children known to be living at the house were nowhere to be found.

Two time periods - the story of the present as Libby turns twenty-five and the story of the children twenty-five years ago.

Characters with disturbing tendencies - a man who watches and waits and an entire household locked away from the world.

Adults looking back vs children living a nightmare - the adults who were the children forced to grow up way too soon to survive and who remain forever scarred by their childhood.

Mystery as to which of the children these adults are  - Who is Henry? Who is Lucy? Where does Libby come from?

The book has an intriguing premise. A family of four buys a house. Dad, Mom, a boy, and a girl are the wholesome family next door. Then, Mom lets a couple film at the house. Okay, except they never leave. Mom encourages it; Dad does nothing. Then, Mom invites another family to move in. Odd and even more so as they completely take over the household. Again, Mom is all for it; Dad seems unable to do anything.

This story is about this odd and disturbing combination of people living in the same house. It is about two sets of siblings living in one household. It is about a family that turns into a cult. It is about adults who return to that childhood to perhaps find closure, perhaps move past, or perhaps something else entirely. It is about a dysfunctional family - dysfunctional in the worst possible way. Trigger warning - this book features abuse of all kinds against children. This is the piece that I do not know that I can see past.

This is not really a thriller. It is more disturbing and depressing than thrilling in its twists and turns. There are twists, some predictable, some less so. That and the multiple time periods make this book a very quick read. However, when the "twist" does come, my reaction is not of surprise but of disgust. EEEwwww.

The setup had all the makings of a great and chilling story even without its twist. Unfortunately, with the twist, the image of that young child is what remains.

The ending hints at something beyond, something that may come as a next step. A setup for a sequel? Perhaps. Will I follow along? While the idea is intriguing as it was in this book, given where this one led, I think not.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment