Wednesday, January 9, 2013

#BookReview: The History of Us - Leah Stewart

Take three kids (11, 9 and 2), a 28 year old aunt, add water, stir well and you have instant family, right?  Eloise Hempel is at the start of a promising career as a history professor at Harvard.  Already a published author, her star is rising and can only go higher.  The plane crash that kills her sister and brother-in-law diminishes her star and lands her right back in Cincinnati with a house she doesn't want and three kids.

Fast forward 17 years and the kids are adults, but they still live at home and Eloise is still responsible for them.  The eldest, Theo, followed in Eloise's footsteps and majored in history.  While Eloise realizes that Theo needs to leave Cincinnati in order to pursue a career in academia, Theo loves everything about Cincinnati and the house that Eloise is so desperate to unload.  Josh ventured out into the real world once, got his feelings hurt and came back home to his sisters and Eloise.  And young Claire is about to enter into adulthood and a chance to study ballet in New York.  None of them, including Eloise, is really ready to leave the nest.

My biggest takeaway is that everyone can stand to do some growing and growing up.  Even at 45, Eloise was not as mature as she needed to be.  At the same time, I sympathized with her need to have a life of her own after living for the kids, three kids she didn't ask for, for the last 17 years.  Often kids don't see their parents as real people, so it never really occurred to the kids that perhaps she was tired of mothering them.  Though it was interesting to watch her come full circle and realize that she was at the exact point her mother had been at years earlier.

Overall, Stewart does a good job with character development.  I have to say overall because I was a little disappointed with her treatment of Claire.  Eloise, Theo and Josh are all given story lines told from their perspective, so there was a better connection to them and it was easier to understand their thought process and where they were coming from.  Claire, on the other hand, was almost irrelevant until halfway through the book and even then, her story was told from the points of view of the others.







384pp
Published: January 2013
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.



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