Jenny (Reading Envy)'s Reviews > Did You Ever Have a Family

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
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it was amazing
bookshelves: booker-winners-and-listed, national-book-award-nominees, postal-bookswap
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 it another shot when it arrived in my mailbox as part of my postal bookswap. I love how the story is told through periphery characters, because June would have been a completely unreliable narrator due to her grief (her entire family is killed at the beginning of the book in a house fire.)

Another cool element to my reading of this book was that I read it at the same time as a reading friend on the other side of the world. She gave it a bad review, calling the layers of grief unrealistic and manipulative. I dunno, as someone who has had more than her fair share of grief lately, it resonated with me in a way it probably wouldn't have four years ago. It is a gift to not feel that resonance.
"We've learned that grief can sometimes get loud, and when it does, we try not to speak over it."
But both the reading friend and I had to try our hand at making that wedding cake that gets a few mentions. You can see both of our versions over on JennyBakes!.
"Some people... magically surface in these horrible moments, knowing exactly what to do, which spaces to fill."
By the way, another friend and I did a Reading Envy Podcast episode on grief, earlier in the year before I had read this. Had I read this book before that episode, I would have definitely included it. Now it feels like an omission, having had this reading experience.
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Reading Progress

September 7, 2016 – Started Reading
September 9, 2016 – Finished Reading
November 25, 2016 – Shelved
November 25, 2016 – Shelved as: booker-winners-and-listed
November 25, 2016 – Shelved as: national-book-award-nominees
November 25, 2016 – Shelved as: postal-bookswap

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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Kelli Loved this.


message 2: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn OK, so I am curious about the cake modification -- when you sub coconut gram for gram for the cocoa, is it coconut flakes, or coconut flour? This sounds absolutely delicious.


Jenny (Reading Envy) Kathryn wrote: "OK, so I am curious about the cake modification -- when you sub coconut gram for gram for the cocoa, is it coconut flakes, or coconut flour? This sounds absolutely delicious."

Hmm it looks like she used shredded coconut.


message 4: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Gotcha...thanks :). Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday!


Carol Really need to catch up on your podcasts...where does the time go? Thanks for the heads up on that. Enjoyed your review, loved the book.


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