Book Reviews

Book review: First Came Us, by Rachel Cullen

First Came Us,

by Rachel Cullen

Publication: February 05, 2020

1st came usAbout: Jack and Ellie Miller have been happily married for eighteen years and lead a perfectly ordinary life with their three children in an idyllic Connecticut town. Jack is an economics professor at Yale and Ellie owns a thriving yoga studio. Although day-to-day life isn’t always carefree, they exist in a world where carpools, soccer games, and bedtimes are their biggest concerns. However, all good things must come to an end. The Millers’ picture-perfect life gets turned upside down when Jack gets an unwelcome visit from a ghost from his past, their sixteen-year-old daughter Sydney decides to let down her hair and trade her backpack for a six-pack, and Ellie gets shocking news that requires immediate action. Jack and Ellie can barely pull themselves away from these unexpected challenges long enough to notice that Sydney is careening downward in her own dangerous spiral; but they need to find a way to overcome their issues if they want to save their daughter and their marriage.

**My Review**

Do you ever feel as if you’ve read a book at the wrong time? Today, I enjoyed a rare day where I had the time available to knock out not one but two books on my TBR list. How lucky am I??? But after the first book I read today I feel like nothing else could come close to it, which is no fault of author Rachel Cullen’s. I liked this book but just wasn’t left with the same amazing feeling I had earlier today after finishing my first book.

Anyway, First Came Us is a novel about Jack and Ellie, plus their three kids. They’ve been together forever, have a sixteen-year-old daughter Sydney, plus two younger children Max and Izzy. Jack is a successful econ professor at Yale and Ellie is a social worker turned yoga instructor/business owner. Their oldest daughter Sydney is brilliant, beautiful, and a soccer player – although her self-esteem is nill. Ellie and Jack get several enormous surprises in their lives and while they are wrapped up in their own angst, Sydney starts veering off the path of good/pure/smart/never gets into trouble/etc. 

I really liked this book. I can’t say that I loved it, but it was good. 


This book is raw and honest as far as the messiness and screw-ups regarding marriage and parenting? This book tackles difficult topics and asks difficult questions that we may or may not truly want to be answered. And all of the characters, although very flawed, were likable. 

What did I not like?

In a word – dishonesty. This novel starts with a prologue outlining an early indiscretion and then, many years later, it seems as if all Ellie, Jack, and Sydney do is lie to one another. I understand that this is fiction and the dishonesty was a major aspect of the plot and lessons learned. But it has been a while since I’ve read something with so many justifications about lies or omissions. And I guess at my age, I’ve grown to not like that at all. It has a horrible effect on connecting with and becoming invested in the characters. If they lie to one another, then why should I believe their private thoughts and motivations?

Nevertheless, this is a good read that any busy, crazed mother can relate to. It’s about still trying to stay connected with your partner while also balancing the crazy train of motherhood and a career. It’s about screwing up, apologizing, and trying to move forward. And most importantly, it’s about love.

Was this the most memorable thing that I have read all year? No. But do I recommend it to fans of women’s fiction? Absolutely. This story is real, uncomfortable at times, will bring tears to your eyes, and a quick/easy read. 

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest review!


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