DID YOU EVER HAVE A FAMILY, by Bill Clegg, came along at the perfect time for me. I was somewhat of a shut-in, and feeling more than a little sorry for myself. That is, until I began reading this sorrowful novel that has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
I am going to tell you right up front that I fell deeply in love with this novel. Almost immediately. Believe me, I was more than a little bit skeptical about the subject matter. Clegg’s elegant and powerful prose moves this tragic story along with dignity and love.
I will give you the premise of the story in as few words as possible. June Reid is hosting the wedding of her only child, her daughter. Everyone who is important to June is staying in her house in the small town she lives in in rural Connecticut. But a horrific tragedy strikes right before June’s eyes early on the morning of the wedding. She watches in disbelief as her home blows up in front of her eyes. Sleeping inside the house are June’s daughter, future son-in-law, ex-husband, and her now boyfriend. So, what’s next?
Bill Clegg is a genius at writing. He manages to get inside each character in this amazing story. And there are a lot of them. Of course we are trying to figure out how this awful explosion happened. And there is speculation galore. But the main suspect has to be immediately dispelled since he perished in the fire. So, what happened? This story is riddled with guilt. Most of us can relate to that in one way or the other. But since this case does is not solved, the survivors feed on the guilt they are left with.
Following the character of June as she drives alone across the country and ends up at a small motel on the edge of the ocean on the west coast, felt like going along with someone I knew. She had nothing left. Not a driver’s license, no passport, just an ATM card, thank God. Leaving everything and nothing behind.
” Clegg has an exquisite ability to get inside the heads of complicated characters to tell a forceful and layered story that is impossible to put down. DID YOU EVER HAVE A FAMILY sharply hits notes of what it means to be a family–those you are born into and those you choose–in this beautiful and life-affirming masterpiece, an incredible testament of what it means to be human.”
The reviews are all glowing. Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, Washington Post.
This is one of those books I call an OMG! book. You simply must read it to believe it.
My finished copy came from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. I loved it!