Published by Scout Press on September 1, 2015
Read synopsis on Goodreads
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When I first picked up Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg, I didn’t know much about its content. I knew that it had overwhelmingly positive reviews and, based on the title, that it was an emotionally heavy read, but that was about it. It turns out that my assumption was true and it’s easy to see why this book is so popular – it’s well-written, fairly short, and packs an emotional punch. It is the story of a loss so great that even the strongest would have trouble surviving it.
June Reid is one of these people, for in a single moment, she loses her entire family – her ex-husband, boyfriend, daughter, and future son-in-law are all gone. Struggling to take it all in, she flees her hometown in Connecticut, a place where everyone knows everyone and everyone has an opinion about what happened. Armed with only a few necessities, she finds herself clear across the country living in a daze of grief and disbelief while, unbeknownst to June, life back home moves on and the truth about what really happened comes to light.
If you’re thinking this sounds like an emotionally heavy read, you would be right. This is, perhaps, the most emotionally-driven novel I have read in a long time. Although the story focuses on June, Did You Ever Have a Family has several narrators, all of whom were directly affected by the event that took their loved ones from them. The result is a multifaceted perception of what happened that night and leaves each person asking their own what ifs? As with real people, the characters respond to trauma in different ways, and Clegg lifts the curtain on the full spectrum of human emotions that come with profound loss.Did You Ever Have a Family is the story of profound loss and its aftermath. #books Click To Tweet
It’s easy to see why this is such a popular book. What happens to June could happen to any of us and it’s hard not to put ourselves in her shoes and wonder how we would react. It also left me wondering what my legacy would be – what will people remember about me when I’m gone? Will it be the good or the bad? When a book raises these types of questions, it’s hard not to become emotionally invested in the outcome of its characters.
Even so, there were times when I felt very disconnected. The story is told through the eyes of several narrators and there were times that I had trouble following who was who and what their connection was, dulling the emotions that I should have been feeling. That said, although it was a big problem for me, I can’t imagine this story being written in any other way – the one thing that gave me trouble was also the most essential. It did, however, impact my reading experience. In the end, Did You Ever Have a Family may be anchored by a single event, but the story is about those who are tethered to it and their quest for understanding and, ultimately, peace.
Recommended for: Anyone who is not afraid of an emotionally charged book that is rooted in a story that could, at any moment, become a reality.