Sunday, January 20, 2013

The History of Us: A Novel by Leah Stewart

In The History of Us, the newest novel by the celebrated author of The Myth of You and Me, three grown siblings return to their childhood home and face a family secret that forces them to reexamine their relationships to each other—and to the aunt who took them in as children.

Eloise Hempel is on her way to teach a class at Harvard when she receives devastating news. Her sister and her husband have been killed in a tragic accident, and Eloise must return home to Cincinnati to take her sister’s three children, Theodora, Josh, and Claire, out of the hands of her own incapable mother. She moves back into her mother’s ancient house and, after her mother leaves, pours her own money into its upkeep.

Nearly two decades later, Eloise is still in that house, still thinking about what she left behind. With Claire leaving for New York City for a promising ballet career, Eloise has plans to finally embark on a life that’s hers alone. But when her mother makes a competition out of who inherits the house, and Claire reveals a life-changing secret, their makeshift family begins to fall apart. 

The History of Us is not a memorable book, yet, it still is entertaining and modern.  Stewart has a way with words to draw the reader a very vivid picture.  Eloise was living her dream until she received a life-changing phone call.  So she goes back home - not only for the funerals - but to get her sister's three children.   Her mother can't handle the pressure of raising three grandkids, so it falls to Eloise.

Then the book jumps about seventeen years.  Eloise is on the precipice of another life-changing decision. The kids are raised and she's ready to get on with her life.  At this point, Stewart gives the reader a birds eye view of what is going on in their lives and how things have been.  There's a family drama moment when a secret is revealed but it doesn't motivate the story.  All in all, a heartwarming story about family.  As the first book I've read by this author, I would definitely read another.  The History of Us held my attention and I thought the characters were vividly drawn, even if I didn't like all of them.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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