I didn’t enjoy this book. At all. And yet I couldn’t stop reading it. It made me uncomfortable. It made me think about losing everyone in my life that I love. It made me cry. Who wants to read a book like that? I obviously do.
But it also made me take pause and appreciate what I have and empathize with those who have gone through or who are going through trauma in their lives. THAT’S why I can recommend this debut novel. Clegg doesn’t just write a devastating story about a woman who loses everyone she loves but about the relationships, friendships and acquaintances who are linked in some way with such profound depth and humanity.
June Reid loses everyone in a terrible tragedy the night before her daughter’s wedding. She then leaves her small town and journeys to a place where she hopes will bring her closure. Along the way other stories are revealed introducing an eclectic cast of characters, some directly involved and some in the smallest ways.
The novel almost reads like linked short stories but should definitely be read in order. Clegg’s writing is so tightly plotted and lyrical that as much as I wanted to devour it quickly, I couldn’t. The feelings and emotions are authentic. I don’t know if it is because he changed his writing style and narration at times (from first-person narration to omniscient narration) or he’s just that freaking good. (It made me feel the same way as when I read Yanagihara’s A Little Life).
Again, it’s challenging to recommend this type of book to a fellow reader, but I must. The writing is beautiful and the messages are necessary.
“Rough as life can be, I know in my bones we are supposed to stick around and play our part…
Someone down the line might need to know you got through it. Or maybe someone you won’t see coming will need you…
And it might be you never know the part you played, what it meant to someone to watch you make your way each day. Maybe someone or something is watching us all make our way. I don’t think we get to know why.”
*Thank you to Edelweiss and Scout Press, an imprint of Gallery Books, for the advance, uncorrected reader’s proof. I was not required to post a review nor was I compensated. The quotes might have been changed in the final publication. Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg is 304 pages and was released on September 1, 2015.