The History of Us
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The History of Us

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  1,770 ratings  ·  252 reviews
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 si...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Touchstone (first published 2012)
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It's prob more of a 3.5 stars books- I'm torn between "I liked it" to "I really liked it".

Hard read at times- sometimes the self-destructive ways of these characters could be annoying, but when ppl are dealing with what these characters are dealing with- perhaps pefectly acceptable.

Life's a series of choices, except occassionally a "choice" happens that's not exactly a choice. Can you give up the life you've been working hard for to deal with 3 lives falling apart?

Sacrafice. Struggle. When do...more
Catherine McKenzie
Stewart does it again. She has this brilliant way of creating compelling and individual characters. And I found it so interesting how she switched POV on the book, sometimes in the same chapter, and yet, you were never confused by what was going on. Can't wait to read what she writes next. Highly recommend.
The book begins with Eloise Hempel reveling in her life as a successfully published, Harvard Professor. She can hardly believe that she has achieved this dream. Her life is shattered with one phone call from her niece - her sister and brother in law have died on vacation and Eloise's mother is, well a useless piece of blubber unable to care for her three grandchildren. When Eloise arrives her mother, Francine basically decamps saying she can't handle things and leaves Eloise with the children. T...more
Jennifer Hufford
It pains me to give this 2 stars... I loved Stewart's first book, THE MYTH OF YOU AND ME (if you haven't read this, please do so - it's wonderful!). And I was really looking forward to THE HISTORY OF US. I couldn't get into it. I didn't find the siblings terribly engaging as characters and their in-fighting was tiresome. It wasn't really clear where the angst came from. I also felt a lot of anger toward the three siblings who, though adults, were immature and bratty, especially when they turned...more
Jenny Mulholland
I had to stop reading this book. I loved the premise, but it was frankly boring. Knowing how busy we all are, I couldn't make time for 10-15 minutes of catch up on this family. I didn't care. I love a book that makes you want to read, curled up on the couch, to the point you forget to make dinner. This is not it.
Wendy Hines
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-chang...more
Prologue: Eloise Hempel, 28, is a newly-appointed professor at Harvard after publishing a well-respected book when her career path is interrupted by the death of her sister and brother-in-law. As guardian to her sister’s children, she returns to her childhood home in Cincinnati to raise her nieces, 11 and 2, and nephew, 9.

Flash forward 17 years: We find Eloise and all three children in the same large home. The children are now, of course, young adults, and this is essentially when the story begi...more
"The Myth of You and Me" has been my favorite book since the moment I finished it, sobbing alone in my bedroom at 2 in the morning. Despite owning them both, I still haven't read her other two works, "Body of a Girl" and "Husbands and Wives". When I read the summary of "The History of Us", I was sucked it and immediately pre-ordered it on Amazon.

I really really liked it. Stewart's writing is simple, lovely, and very funny. As a teacher, I enjoyed the look into high education and especially Theo'...more
Eloise Hempel gives up her life as a teacher at Harvard to take care of his sister’s three kids in the Cincinnati house she grew up in after her sister and husband are killed in a helicopter crash. Fast forward seventeen years and what their lives have become. Eloise wants to sell the house and get on with her life.

Simple premise and it certainly pulled me in. Someone giving up their own lives to take care of others is noble. We learn about each of the three children; Claire, Theo and Josh; now...more
I'm a mother, and have always known that I wanted children, and have always assumed that I would have to make tough sacrifices in order to be the best mother I could. This novel takes an unflinchingly honest look at what it would be like for someone to have to make all those sacrifices for children that were not their own, that they had never asked for or wanted... and Leah Stewart makes Eloise an immensely relatable character, whose reluctance to take on the role that has been thrust upon her i...more
Four well-educated people are self-centered, selfish, and unloving toward one another and their lovers. Eloise, who is 45, drove me the most crazy because she is old enough to have evolved. The others are 28, 26 and 19. The 19-year-old's immaturity was understandable, but she is featured least in the book. Josh, the musician, was my favorite character, but I still didn't like him very much. All of the characters seemed quite neurotic and self absorbed. I kept thinking that if I knew them, I woul...more
Leah Stewart's new book, The History of Us, is a fabulous piece of fiction that deals with many of life's disappointments. Eloise is a young woman with a budding dream career- being a Professor at Harvard. However, before she can begin to enjoy her new life outside of Ohio she receives the worst phone call of her life. With her world turned upside down, Eloise finds herself moving back to Cincinnati to care for her three young nieces and nephew after their parents are killed. Flash forward 17 ye...more
Charlotte Lynn
On the way to teach her Harvard class, Eloise Hempel finds out that her sister and her husband have been killed in a tragic accident. Eloise’s sister has left her as guardian of her three young children. This causes her to return to Cincinnati to raise Theo, Josh, and Claire. She moves into her mother’s house. Her mother leaves, and Eloise goes about the raising and the upkeep of an ancient house.

Now that the youngest, Claire, has moved out and onto her ballet career in New York, Eloise decides...more
Life never turns out the way we plan it and this reality slaps Eloise Hampel right in the face. Eloise has just started her dream job--teaching at Harvard University--when she gets a call that her only sister and her brother-in-law have been killed in an accident and her mother's coping skills extend only to asking the eldest child who has just lost her parents to call Eloise to come home and take over. Before she knows it, Eloise has given up her life in Boston, moved back to the large, old hou...more
I just couldn't finish it. It seemed so cliched.
How are three orphaned children are ALL so self-absorbed yet brilliant in their own rite, and play their roles so obviously. The eldest is a control freak, the middle needs to find themselves and the baby is the precious commodity. I didn't care what the secret was, who was f***ing who, who wanted to f*** whomever; the whole thing bored me to tears.

I also HATE when specific names that are considered popular right now are over used. For example, C...more
A few years ago, I read The Myth of You and Me, and I immediately was captivated by Leah Stewart's storytelling. She is not a writer who feels it necessary to give us likable characters, nor does she back off from creating people who are deeply, almost painfully flawed.

And so it is with The History of Us, which tells the story of three adults and the aunt who raised them.

It's been about twenty years since Eloise Hempel received the phone call that changed everything. An ambitious professor at Ha...more
There's a lot of discussion about "New Adult" books right now, and this is (I think) squarely in that genre but... I just didn't really care about the characters enough.

We open with 28-year-old Eloise, newly hired at Harvard, flush with the success of her first book and - wham! - her life changes when her sister and brother-in-law die, leaving her as guardian to their three children. That's the prologue, with the rest of the book taking place today. The three children have grown up... mostly. Cl...more
Oh this book made me cry!! I was frustrated by the characters and at times just could not understand them. The writing was fairly well done. I feel that there are still a lot of unanswered questions that maybe could have helped the plot along but overall it did what I love for a book to do.. it moved me. The characters were strong even in their confusion and feeling of loss in their life, none of them really know what their role is and uncertain how to be who they really want to be. This book di...more
Rarely do I write a review on a book, but after reading the reviews on this one I felt compelled to write one. I found this book to be boring, trite and lacking an overall sense of creativity. The characters seemed stereotypical and I did not enjoy spending time with them. I found myself skipping entire paragraphs and chapters sometime and had no problem following the story or missing anything. I felt the entire book could have been summed up in half of its length and there really was no plot to...more
Anne Wolfe
This was a book I almost stopped reading, but was glad to have read to the end. In the process, I learned about ballet, academe and Cincinnati (and also rock and roll). It took a long time to get where it was going, but the theme, I thought, was what happens when you let life happen to you without making decisions. The characters seem frozen in time and place. One criticism was the difficulty in discerning between two of the characters (perhaps both of which were autobiographical?) Eloise and Th...more
Jennifer Patrick
I chose this because it was by a Cincinnati author, set in Cincinnati. Knowing what and where they were talking about was about the only good thing about this Debbie Downer sludgy read. The characters were completely unbeleiveable. An old, closeted lesbian aunt, one sister a prima ballerina who left it all for a 40 something married man, an angry unemployed older sister who couldn't decide which man she wanted and a brother who was a rock star who quit for no apparent reason at the height of his...more
Jennifer Nowak
I found this book to be just OK. I didn't feel like I really got to know the characters and therefore never really cared what happened to them. I also felt like the story went nowhere. I didn't feel like things changed from the beginning to the end of the book; everything stayed pretty much the same. This was the first book written by Leah Stewart that I've read and I currently have no interest in reading any of her other books.
At first I was very positive about the book but now 24 hours after finishing it I must say I am a little bit annoyed and sad. The writing was well done and the author gave 3 of the main characters plenty of time to develop, often having the story told from their perspectives. The 2, which to me seemed the most similar, were not as well developed and their personalities seem to be the most selfish. The question could be raised that if the other 3 persons in the story (Eloise, Theo and Josh) had t...more
Leslie Kastner
I enjoyed the themes of location and vocation and their impact on ones identity - each character wrestled mightily with these themes. Perhaps this book resonated with me because I also struggle with these same issues daily!

I also enjoyed Stewart's writing and character development. She masterfully crystallizes little life observations into tasty morsels.

Looking forward to reading other works by her.
Nicole Long
I had high expectations for this novel but was underwhelmed by the whole thing. In the beginning, I stayed frustrated and annoyed by the lack of compassion and empathy the characters had towards one another. Halfway through, though, I had lost interest in everyone involved. I may have only completed this because it was a Buddy Read! I did enjoy discussing the book along the way with my buddy!
Sandra Heinzman
This was just published in 2013 and what a good book! I love how this author writes. It's another book about family relationships (4 members) and thwarted desires, and responsibility, and choices and love. I read it straight through today; couldn't put it down. It takes place in Cincinnati and deals with ballet, music, teaching, lesbianism and more, lol.
I am no longer going to choose books based on their covers! I really wanted to like this and was so ready to be captivated by a good book. This just dragged on with no real base. There wasn't a single character in the book that I felt compelled by or any emotion for. But, I read to the end. Now on to something good I hope!
A rather sad take on a family and probably more realistic than we would want to believe.
Eloise's sister is killed in an accident and Eloise is left to raise her three children who are in their early childhood. This means that all her plans and dreams for her life are changed but she loved her sister and she loves the children, although she had always planned to be their favorite aunt, not their mother. Eloise's mother, Francine, who should have stepped up and been of some help, was worthless.
Carolyn Nash
There were certainly things I didn't love about this book -- the plot and some of the characters' internal struggles sort of beat you over the head after a while -- but I think Stewart's writing is extraordinary, her dialogue unusually well done, and her characters surprisingly heartbreaking.
I don't know why I kept reading the book. It was a frustrating book. The characters were all so selfish, and the author shared the narrator's voice with all of them. It is rare that an author can achieve a variety of narrator's voices.
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52 weeks, 52 books: Week 2014.28: The History of Us 1 26 Jul 18, 2014 06:09AM  
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I'm the author of three novels: BODY OF A GIRL, THE MYTH OF YOU AND ME, and HUSBAND AND WIFE. I teach in the creative writing program at the University of Cincinnati.
More about Leah Stewart...
The Myth of You and Me Husband and Wife Body of a Girl It's a Wonderful Lie: 26 Truths About Life in Your Twenties

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“And Josh wanted to tell her what he knew: that love might look like a shore but turn out to be a desert island, where you roamed alone, talking to yourself, trying to crack open coconuts with your shoe. So thirsty you drank the salt water. So hungry you ate the sand.” 5 likes
“You spend way too much time confusing silence with strength.” 2 likes
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