A day before our bike trip, several books I’ve had on hold at the library FINALLY became available. Two of those books were 7 day loans, so I knew I’d need to get busy reading!
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg was an interesting read. Upon reading the synopsis of the book, you know that June Reid has lost her family in a tragic accident. What follows is a chapter-by-chapter account of people connected to the tragedy in one way or another. Each chapter alternates narrators. We encounter some of these narrators multiple times and are welcome into their inner worlds, while others may only appear once. Each chapter weaves together the story of June’s family and friends, a life filled with complicated relationships that are damaged, patched up, and/or strained.
I typically greatly enjoy books that alternate narrators, but this book, for some reason, didn’t capture me immediately. I’d say until about halfway through the book I was only mildly captivated, but then something clicked and I devoured the rest of the book.
What changed for me as a reader? Ultimately I think it was the way Clegg created such flawed, decent, human characters. The community of people in this book mirrored the complexity of real life in all its beautiful brokenness. Every person in this book struggled with something, and I think that is what kept propelling me forward in the book even when I wasn’t 100% invested. The writing was not sweet or contrived. The stories of each narrator were raw and real, and I felt like I was sitting across a table from each person, having a cup of coffee with them as the stories unfolded. It just felt so intimate.
Basically, I really loved this book. It’s not flashy, but it sure is honest.