Book Reviews

Book Review: The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell

The Family Upstairs,

by Lisa Jewell

Publication: Atria Books; November 5, 2019

the family upstairsAbout the book:

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

*My Review*

Last week I decided to make a pact with myself to finally catch up on some reading, specifically my aging NetGalley shelf. I’m constantly puzzled by my addiction to downloading titles from NetGalley when I know I won’t get to them until after all of my other blogging commitments. Ahh, the guilt… Anyway, yesterday I finally settled in with The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. And the rest of my day was spent in a completely useless state completely engrossed in this novel!

The blurb shares plenty of information so I won’t repeat all of that, but the novel is told from 3 different points of view:

  • Libby, the young woman who has just turned 25
  • Lucy, a single mother that is currently struggling to find/keep a roof over the heads of herself, her two children, and their dog
  • Henry, the oldest child of the couple that lived at 16 Cheyne Walk

While Libby and Lucy’s POV is primarily told in the present tense, the real meat of the story is told from Henry’s POV. Although he is certainly an unreliable narrator, this is where the reader gets all of the good, juicy information regarding what happened at the house from the beginning when Henry and Lucy’s parents were wealthy and sought-after members of London’s wealthy society, until the time when the police discovered Libby and the bodies years later. 

I won’t lie and say that some things were not blatantly obvious from early in the book. As soon as Martina invited Birdie and Justin to stay at their home while looking for another place to live, I wanted to scream into the book, “this isn’t going to end well!” But for the most part, this was ultimate perfection as far as a suspense thriller. I had numerous predictions and theories about what really went on all of those years ago, as well as, in regards to some things occurring in the present, however, I was repeatedly and pleasantly surprised by the plot twists and turns. 

The Family Upstairs is the perfect read for fans of psychological thrillers. The characters are well-developed and the imagery within their perceptions and descriptions of other characters is fantastic – specifically those coming from Henry.  Although creepy, sad, and disturbing as a whole, this novel had me completely entranced from beginning to end. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. 


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