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Did You Ever Have a Family

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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  23,354 ratings  ·  3,457 reviews
The stunning debut novel from bestselling author Bill Clegg is a magnificently powerful story about a circle of people who find solace in the least likely of places as they cope with a horrific tragedy.

On the eve of her daughter's wedding, June Reid's life is completely devastated when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter's fiancé, her ex-husba
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Hardcover, 293 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Scout Press
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Laura Jones The tone is sad at times, bittersweet at others. The overwhelming amount of love being shown by so many different characters is helps to balance the…moreThe tone is sad at times, bittersweet at others. The overwhelming amount of love being shown by so many different characters is helps to balance the sadness of the tragedy in the beginning. It is a beautiful story.(less)
Melinda Worfolk I think this would be a great book club book. There are themes that would provoke a lot of discussion (regret, redemption) and the characters are…moreI think this would be a great book club book. There are themes that would provoke a lot of discussion (regret, redemption) and the characters are complex. I'm going to recommend it to mine. (less)

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3.80  · 
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 ·  23,354 ratings  ·  3,457 reviews


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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Shelby *trains flying monkeys* by: Ryan Dejonghe
Rough as life can be, I know in my bones we are supposed to stick around and play our part. Even if that part is coughing to death from cigarettes, or being blown up young in a house with your mother watching. And even if it's to be that mother. Someone down the line might need to know you got through it.



June Reid's daughter Lolly, Lolly's fiance Will, her ex-husband and her now boyfriend Luke are killed in a fire while June has to watch. It's on the eve of her daughter's wedding.
The aftermat
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Elyse Walters
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a rare - exceptional- elegant- book.

It's quiet...
It's tragic...

I didn't cry...
I didn't laugh...
I was curious as hell...and intrigued as can be!
The writing is gorgeous
The characters - 'each' will surprise you with tales, memories, scars.

What distinguishes this novel from all others? It's a question that must be asked ...
.... Because even if you're not certain of the answer, you are certain that there is definitely a distinction!!!!

Do not miss reading this novel! It's absolutely one of
...more
Delee
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is not a genre a read a lot...but when I find a book as good as this one...it always makes me want to scream from the roof tops- "READ THIS BOOK!!". Whether you want to listen...is completely up to you.

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It's the perfect summer morning for a wedding...but June's daughter will not live to see it...nor will anyone else she loves.

June loses everything on this perfect summer's day.

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She loses her daughter... her ex husband...her boyfriend...her house...

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She loses her life as she knew it- but luckily
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Carol
3.5 Stars

The truth will set you free......

This explosively tragic story of devastating loss has a complex narration told from many different perspectives that I found confusing throughout a good portion of the book.

There is a great story here though that comes together nicely in the last quarter, but overall, it was a somewhat frustrating read for me with an overabundance of minor characters who distracted from the main event.

Based on the high ratings and wonderful reviews, I'm feeling pretty

...more
Debbie "DJ"
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just finished, still tears in my eyes. Beautiful story full of meaning.

WOW, just WOW! I cannot believe how much this book completely hooked me right from the start. Just as I was getting to know some of the characters, I was thrown into a horrible tragedy. A wedding scene, an explosion, what went wrong? I felt I was already there with them, that immediate sense of connection, knowing each and every survivors life would be forever altered. I love character studies, and the author, Bill Clegg, ma
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Lenny
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Did you ever have an editor
Jen
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A quiet, stunning novel about family and when tragedy happens, how it can stop our life suddenly, put it in reverse, then moving forward in slow motion, change it dramatically.

This is a story of tragic proportions. June Reid’s life is turned on its axis when an accident takes her loved ones. In her despair, she leaves - blinded with loss. In her wake, the small town talks. And feels. And grieves. What emerges are stories and memories, shared hopes and fears of those whose lives were lost and th
...more
Glenn Sumi
Aug 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Did You Ever Have A Confusing Story, Generic Narrators And Forced Epiphanies? (2.5 stars rounded up to 3)

After a woman loses her entire family in an accident, she packs up and drives away, without telling anyone where she’s going or who she is. Through the perspectives of a dozen or so narrators, we have to piece together what happened.

It’s potentially affecting material, for sure, but the narrators all sound alike, whether they’re middle-aged women or teenage boys. Clegg, whose addiction memoir
...more
Jennifer Masterson
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a beautiful piece of fiction! 5 Big Shiny Stars! I was so engrossed in the putting the pieces together of the characters before and after the tragedy. It was like 6 degrees of separation. Highly recommend, and that's not because the book took place in Connecticut and the author and I are both from Connecticut. It's because the writing, story and character development are so well done.

"Did you Ever Have A Family" begins after the most unspeakable of tragedies occurs to June Reid. An
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Margitte
WHAT HAPPENED:
They were all preparing for a joyous wedding. The flowers were picked, the cake was baked, the tent stood majestically ready in the back yard of the old stone house. The guest were all in town already; the rehearsal dinner went exceptionally well. The happiness of the bride and groom was soft on the eyes, their love was unbelievably true.

Then ...

Four people died in an explosion. Lolly, Will, Luke and Adam.

On the wedding day a funeral was held instead. The volunteer firefighters wa
...more
Maxwell
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: man-booker, i-own-it, 2015, arc
I'm a bit speechless right now. This book was phenomenal, in so many ways. And for a majority of the book I was really enjoying it, but that ending--while not mind-blowing or particularly shocking--gave me chills. It's these kinds of books, ones that you can't put down, that bring you to tears, or resonate deeply within you, that stay with you the most. It makes you grateful for the community around you; friends, family, even the people you don't think affect your life, but at the end of the day ...more
Carol
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: debut, fiction
On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid loses everyone she holds dear and even some she does not, to a terrible tragedy. Reeling with grief and regret, June flees the town she has lived in for years, seeking refuge in a place where her daughter once knew happiness.

The title Did You Ever Have A Family asks that question and so much more. I don’t think you could read this poignant debut without examining the relationships with those surrounding us. The death of a loved one or of one we ha
...more
James
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Allie Notaro, Katee Panter, Paul Cirone
Shelves: 1-fiction
I treasure this book. It has everything I want in something I choose to read. I generally am driven by the plot of a book, closely followed by the character development. Oddly, there is no plot in this book as the conflict at the center of the story took place before the book begins. Yet I love it. Quickly falling to character development, it's fantastic. Each chapter switches from character to character, some of which you understand the connection to the plot, some of which you do not. By the m ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Ignore the three-point-eight-something Goodreads rating. Did You Ever Have A Family has an unheard of 4.36 from my friends and those people have some serious diversity when it comes to what they like and don’t like. It’s that rating that had me finally check this book out – but it’s also that rating that had me terrified to do so.

If you’re like me and Christmas is a major fake-it-‘til-you-make-it type of holiday, a book like this is t
...more
Debbie
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
A 3.5, much anguish over whether to go with 3 or 4 stars. 4 stars won, but barely. Great plot and characters--it was the novel's structure that I had trouble with. An ex-editor can be a real pain in the ass.

[Read this paragraph only if punctuation can ruin your day.] For example, there’s the title. Only a crazy grammar Nazi would be annoyed that the book title didn’t have correct punctuation, but there you have it. I just want to know where the damn question mark is. (I have to admit that often
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Zoeytron
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
'To be given a glimpse now was a bitter miracle, a ghostly caress that left more regret than solace.'

One minute you have a family, and the next you do not. It's too awful to even contemplate. In the aftermath, you are left to make some sort of peace with mistakes made, things taken for granted, words left unsaid. So much rides on seemingly unimportant decisions made each day, yet the result of just one of them can impact the rest of your life.

As always, human nature's fascination with placing b
...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book opens with a terrible tragedy and those affected will use different measures to ameliorate their deep grief. The book is narrated by those involved, many have regrets, some cannot forgive themselves and a young boy has a terrible secret. Like a jigsaw puzzle, with many pieces this book is hard to judge until the whole picture is assembled and the many meanings are revealed. Putting this whole book together in my mind, I realized how brilliantly constructed it was, how tightly plotted a ...more
Kelli
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, favorites
This book is a standout to me. I could have and desperately wanted to flip back to page one and read it all over again when I finished it. I am certain I would love it even more if I were to do this and I haven't yet returned it to the library, so there is an excellent chance that I will. That would be a first for me. This quiet study of grief and human connection rang honest and authentic. Had I not known better, I would have made the assumption that the author was female because of the skill a ...more
Karen
Jun 20, 2015 rated it liked it
This book kept me reading and interested, but I expected it to be so much more being that it won awards. Far too many characters to keep track of, I had to keep going back and refreshing my memory with who was who... a bit confusing..
Matt
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Rough as life can be, I know in my bones we are supposed to stick around and play our part. Even if that part is coughing to death from cigarettes, or being blown up in a house with your mother watching. And even if it’s to be that mother. Someone down the line might need to know you got through it. Or maybe someone you won’t see coming will need you. Like a kid who asks you to let him help clean hotel rooms. Or some ghost who drifts your way, hungry. And good people might even ask you to marry ...more
Paul Bryant
Jul 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Having finished this I now think the eroteme-free title is to be asked in the same way that you would ask someone “Did you ever have pneumonia?” Because Bill Clegg makes it abundantly clear – this family thing can be rough. Oo-ee. The other thing I learned is that after great tragedy everyone involved is thinner. That’s something Weightwatchers never tell you.

This novel is mournful, miserable and mawkish. The lives of its intwined cast of small-town characters are intricate, inspissate and integ
...more
Dianne
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well. That was unexpectedly moving.

This book just got better and better. I didn't like the format of the alternating narrators at first, with some in first person and some in second person, but once the book got rolling I forgot about it and got in the rhythm of the narrative.

The story starts with an unfathomable family tragedy and then gently pulls apart the tangled backstories of the main characters and others more peripheral to the story - but even the bit players are important here. I think
...more
Melanie
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really liked this story. A couple times I was tearful, a few times I was irritated but I really wanted to find out how it all was going to come together. This story has many narrators, some of which only had a chapter or two so it was a bit confusing at times. This book is an example of how life can change in an instant (as the horrible news around this world is proving). We should be sure to let people know we appreciate them and love them.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Connie
"Some people... magically surface in these horrible moments, knowing exactly what to do, which spaces to fill."
I had this book on my radar, even had read the Amazon preview after it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award last year. I was skeptical because Bill Clegg is a well-loved literary agent, and it felt a little nepotistic that his first novel should end up on such major award lists. So I didn't pursue reading it at the time.

I was glad to get the chance to give
...more
Larry H
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bill Clegg's novel, Did You Ever Have a Family , is a lot like life itself—at times it's poignant and emotional, at other times it's vague and somewhat frustrating, and at still other times you find yourself shaking your head at the wonder of it all.

"I've learned that people will believe what they believe no matter what you say or do."

The night before June Reid's daughter is to get married, an unexpected tragedy takes the lives of her daughter and her fiancé, as well as June's ex-husband and h
...more
Cheryl
Apr 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
Ok, I really wanted to like this book for the fact that so many other readers loved this book. Yet I have tried and tried to give this book a fighting chance but I can't get into it. No matter what I do. At first I thought it was because of the environment that I was reading this book in so I changed locations. Then I thought it was because of my mood, so I tried to read this book when I could focus more time to this book. Yet I have come to realize it is not me but the book itself.

Yes the trag
...more
Iris P

Still pondering and contemplating this story, need time to thoroughly process it, but the prose and the storytelling was enticing enough to force me to put on hold everything else I was reading...





Ellie
Oct 14, 2015 rated it liked it
One night, June has a life: a daughter getting married the next day, the daughter's fiance, June's ex-husband and her boyfriend. A fire in the night takes away everything. What's left?

In Did You Ever Have a Family, Bill Clegg tells us this story through the use of multiple narrators. Clegg has a sensitivity for the many ways in which people fail themselves and each other and I found his deeply wounded characters touching. They all became forgivable in the humanness, even when they did things tha
...more
Erin
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
The tragic circumstances surrounding the story- of a family the night before a wedding that are killed in a house fire, was something which a distant relative of mine experienced. I always recall that people who had gone through their own tragedies would often ask her, "How did you live after that? Her response right up until she passed on was always "One day at a time."

Bill Clegg uses several characters to explore the toll a tragedy can have on many different people. At one point, chapter afte
...more
Ron Charles
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bill Clegg’s debut novel, “Did You Ever Have a Family,” arrives amid a thunderclap of industry hubbub that any writer of quiet, mournful fiction would die for. Which is almost what Clegg did in 2005. As a young super-agent sealing million-dollar deals, he flew too close to the sun — in his case, crack cocaine — and flamed out. He chronicled that spectacular crash in a memoir called “Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man,” but by the time the book arrived in 2010 Clegg had already bounded back int ...more
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Bill Clegg is a literary agent in New York. He is the author of the novel Did You Ever Have A Family and the memoirs Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days.

He has written for the New York Times, Lapham’s Quarterly, New York magazine, The Guardian, and Harper’s Bazaar.
“Rough as life can be, I know in my bones we are supposed to stick around and play our part. Even if that part is coughing to death from cigarettes, or being blown up young in a house with your mother watching. And even if it's to be that mother. Someone down the line might need to know you got through it. Or maybe someone you won't see coming will need you. Like a kid who asks you to help him clean motel rooms. Or some ghost who drifts your way, hungry. And good people might even ask you to marry them. And it might be you never know the part you played, what it meant to someone to watch you make your way each day. Maybe someone or something is watching us all make our way. I don't think we get to know why. It is, as Ben would say about most of what I used to worry about, none of my business.” 50 likes
“[W]e’ve learned that grief can sometimes get loud, and when it does, we try not to speak over it.” 24 likes
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