The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Rating:           8.5

General Rating: Is this book for you? It’s a hodgepodge of stories, Libby Jones’s, mostly. She’s a single girl turning twenty-five and about to inherit? What? She’s not quite sure. Break to the story of beautiful Lucy and her two children struggling to survive. Enter an odd character named Finn. The reader is certain these lives will converge with the inheritance but aren’t exactly sure how.

Who should read:  Women’s fiction lovers, for sure. And readers who like piecing stories together and guessing what will happen next. But those who hate time jumping from the present to the past? You may want to pass on this one.

Skip factor:  3%. I skipped a little.

Storyline: The story is different enough. Libby is a working girl who has just inherited a house from her birth family whom she knows nothing about. In the present, she develops a budding romance with a reporter who once wrote a story about the mysterious people who lived in this mansion. The current timeline follows Libby as she discovers more about her birth family; Lucy, while she struggles to feed her kids; and the enigmatic Finn who is, if not scary then at least, an interesting recluse. The back story tells the tale of the family who once lived upstairs, and therein lies the connection and mystery-thriller storyline.

Characters:  Good character development. I liked Libby, wondered about Lucy and Finn, but wasn’t really enamored with any of them. I did passionately dislike a few of the family members living upstairs and kept turning pages because of them.

Writing/summary:  The writing was very good. There is one confusing part of Lucy’s story that I felt was left open and might have been better left out, but it didn’t affect the overarching story, which was clever. I like a book that amalgamates the present with past. The hype of this book, however, hurt my review. If I am honest, this is one of those novels that I was overly anxious to read. It rose to the top quickly and I expected more. Still! I recommend it. It kept my interest throughout.

Read this author again?  Yes, definitely.   

Read on!


CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, two crime thrillers with sixth-sense components, Friends Who Move Couches and Don’t Mind Me, I Came with the House, women’s fiction. Zahner’s Dream Series novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. Listen to her interview about her 9/11 a premonition here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Listen to her Online Book Circle podcast here. Or read more about Zahner in Voyage Raleigh.

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