Staff Pick: Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

Jenny from Fiction/AV/Teen suggests Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

Cover of Did You Ever Have a FamilyIn an instant, June’s entire family died the night before her daughter’s wedding. The house her loved ones were all staying in caught fire while June was outside of the house, and she was forced to watch her life be engulfed at the same time.

One of my favorite parts of this 2015 Man Booker nominee is how the story is told. The town June lives in is small, where everyone thinks they know each other and gossip is rampant. The narration switches from individuals throughout the town, giving us their own perspective on the situation and their own piece in this tragedy.  Ever so slowly, the truth of that night unravels as the characters deal with answering the question, “What now?” As a result we get this beautiful overarching picture of life and grief and time and the connections between people. If you love stories exploring people as they are and as they were, Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg is the book for you.

For more books dealing with grief, healing, and unraveling secrets try…

the untelling book cover
In The Untelling by Tayari Jones, twenty-five year old Aria is struggling to begin a new family with her fiancé. However, the grief of losing her father and sister fifteen years ago in a car accident is weighing on her as she tries to start anew.
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Four different narrators reflect on a tragic school bus accident, sharing the town’s journey toward healing in Russell Banks’ The Sweet Hereafter.
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In the psychological thriller In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, a reclusive crime writer wakes up in the hospital with several injuries after a weekend away and has to piece together the secrets that lead to a death.
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Arvid’s parents and younger brothers died in a ferry accident. Six years later, he finally begins to work his way toward happiness.  While the premise is sad, In the Wake by Per Petterson is ultimately a novel of hope and the celebration of family.
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A southern gothic coming-of-age tale,  My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh takes place in a small suburb of Baton Rouge which is shaken when a 15 year-old girl is assaulted. Told from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy in the town, his devotion toward her makes even him a suspect in the crime.