Review: Did You Ever Have a Family

Did You Ever Have a Family

Did You Ever Have a Family
By Bill Clegg
Gallery/Scout Press, Paperback, 9781476798189, May 2016, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Grief is processed in many different ways and Clegg manages to capture all of them in this beautifully written novel.

The Rest of It:

On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is forever changed when she loses her daughter, her daughter’s fiance, her ex-husband and her boyfriend in a tragic accident. Losing what is essentially her entire family, June packs her car and heads to a town where she can be alone for awhile.

Each character plays a role in the telling of this story. Some characters are more superfluous than others, yet all of them are important to the end result. As June makes her way across the country, other people also affected by this accident, are forced to come to terms with their own grief.

This is a tragic story about an imperfect family trying to come together to celebrate this joyous day and instead what they have is pain, sorrow and regret over what they didn’t say or didn’t do. There are beautiful, touching moments between these characters which makes the reading more an exploration of grief than a sad, heavy story about loss.

I really loved how the story came together at the end. It was a very satisfying read as far as books go and my book club had plenty to discuss. I highly recommend it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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26 thoughts on “Review: Did You Ever Have a Family”

  1. I loved this book, one of my top reads of 2016!! It was told in such an original way with beautiful writing, I hope we see something new from him soon

    1. I know. It has been on my list since it first came out. When I pitched it to my club it was newish but it was assigned a year later since we choose books in advance so I had to wait!

  2. I’ve heard so many good things about this book. It sounds like I should pick it up. I’m kind of over my book club – no one ever likes the books I pick and many people don’t even try to read them because they say they’re “too dark.”

    1. My club doesn’t like topics that are really dark or books that are too long. I don’t think those should matter so much. I just want books that I can discuss. When we first started to read this one, one member told me she would not read it because it was morose. Okay… yes, a family is killed at the beginning but aren’t you curious how it all plays out? She didn’t show up for the discussion. I think you would enjoy this one.

  3. I’ve had this one on my kindle for awhile. I remember I started it, but then stopped reading it. I wasn’t in the right mood, so I put it down. I still do want to read it at some point. Glad you enjoyed it so much 🙂

    1. The main character is a little cold in the beginning but since the chapters alternate between characters, some are more engaging than others until you really get into it but it was really very good.

    1. Well, I won’t lie to you. Having lost my mom recently, the topic of grief was a bit heavy in the beginning but it’s just so beautifully written and there is hope too which makes it a good read in the end. I say read it. It was really very good.

  4. I really liked this one, too, especially how it all came together in the end. I’ve been trying to come up with a list of novel that are almost like individual stories that are then connected. I feel like I’ve read several but can’t come up with a very good list. The new Elizabeth Strout that comes out in May is like that.

    1. I usually don’t like novels with interconnected stories. Let the Great World Spin was like that, if I remember correctly and yet I loved it. I really loved this one too but to me I knew there was a connection at some point I just had to be patient to see it.

    1. Plus it was long listed for the Man Booker and the National Book Award. It was an Indie Next pick too. I really thought it was lovely and well done.

    1. What really struck me is that I could relate to so many characters in this novel. Grief is a strange beast and it affects us all differently but I could understand everyone’s motive which is not often the case with stories like this one.

    1. It’s a slow build so it gives you, the reader, time to process what’s going on. Not too intense or too sad but you will think about the book long after reading it.

  5. I thought this one had some nice storytelling aspects to it which I liked, but in the end I didn’t really fully like the novel, which I listened to on audio a couple years back. It was just too much: misery & grief and problems and everyone suffering from something. I guess I liked parts of it but just not as a whole.

  6. Yet another one I want to read. I remember the attention this one was getting when it was first released. There is something to be said for waiting and giving it some love after the buzz has died off.

  7. Glad to hear your book club found lots to talk about with this one. I’ve been pondering having my club read it. Sounds like it needs to get added to the list.

    1. It’s a little sad so you kind of have to know that going in but if they are willing to deal with the topic, they will enjoy the writing and how the story is structured.

  8. I read this book based on your recommendation and can only say THANK YOU!!! What an intimate portrayal of how one tragic incident affects people in different ways. And of course – family dynamics. I just loved it.

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