My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell was one of my favorites so far this year. I’ve read several of her other books, and for me, this one is the best yet. I devoured the book in two chunks, one larger read in the afternoon and the other shortly before bed. I couldn’t fall asleep for at least an hour as my mind continued to process everything that had happened in the complicated and messy (in a good way) tale.
There are 3 main voices in the novel: Lucy, a runaway/homeless mother of two; Henry, the son of a former rich couple who fell for a scam; and Libby, a 25-year-old girl who inherits a house from the biological parents who committed suicide nearly a year after she was born. As the stories unravel, we begin to understand some of the connections between the three protagonists; however, in true Jewell fashion, what you know is not quite what you know. The lines are blurry, the connections are misleading, and the identities often change. If you just look at the shell of this book, Libby is a sweet and wonderful girl in search of the truth, Henry is quirky and possibly a little crazy, and Lucy is either truly down on her luck or causes her own pain time and time again.
That’s only the beginning. Lucy acts the way she does because of what happened to her as a child. We don’t know all the details, but it’s easy to judge her in the beginning. While I still think she should’ve been partially punished for some of her actions, all-in-all, she definitely suffered more than any human should. Libby is 100% faultless… and she’s the kind of girl I’d like to be friends with (before or after the money, in case you were wondering!). Henry… well… that’s complicated. Sometimes, he seems very attractive. Others, I think he might try to kill people because his brain is just a little different than the rest of ours. Was he a victim of his circumstances? Was he properly punished? Do we truly know the whole story, or only the parts he wanted to share with us?
This was the kind of book that leaves you puzzled in a good way. There is a lot left to a reader to decide. Jewell has written a defined ending, and we know what happens to everyone, but… there’s some doubt as to which version of the truth we want to believe. The relationships between Phineas, Lucy, Henry, Finn’s sister, the various moms and dads living in their lives, and the people they meet along the way are dark and deceptive. It’s a perfectly complex family drama that really hit the sweet spot for me.
Of course, there were a few areas I wasn’t 100% thrilled with, e.g. where did Julian go? why did Henry Sr. have so many strokes? how did no one discover the murders going on? I can suspend that bit of disbelief, but overall, it was inconsequential to the whole of the story for me. The writing style and tone are superb, thus I can only trim away a partial star. 4.5 from me… and I’ll definitely be reading more of the author’s novels in the future.
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For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are five books: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.