The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell was released last year and since than I’ve seen it on many people’s list of books to read as well as heard many positive reviews. Thrillers are not my first choice of genre, but when the garner enough attention I read them, and usually quite enjoy them. A good thriller is full of questions, and the only way to get answers is to continue reading. I had the following questions while reading The Family Upstairs. They mystery of these questions really kept me glued to the story and eager to finish so I could get the answers.
Who is Lucy?
Libby leads a normal life, she works designing kitchens, and had a modest apartment that she earned herself. She is responsible with money and satisfied with life. Then on her birthday she revives a letter that she had inherited a mansion in a affluent neighborhood in London. She knew she was adopted and often thought about who her birth parents were. Now she’s finally has answers, but once their names are revealed, so is a twisted mystery, involving their mysterious deaths. What happened in the house? And why were her parents found dead in black robes with a unknown man? What happened to her two siblings? They disappeared that night and were never seen again.
At the same time, there is a woman living in France who gets the text message, the baby is 25. She is homeless with two children, but she is willing to risk everything to get passage to England. We learn that Lucy has lead a difficult life, and the lengths she goes through to try and leave France show that whatever her connection is to Libby, it is clearly very important to her.
Can Henry be Trusted
There is one character in the book whose accounts of the past are from a first person perspective. Henry tells us the story of the past. As the son of Libby’s birth parents, he documents for the reader what happens from the beginning, when the family was rich, to the ultimate ending. I saw Henry as an outsider to these events happening inside his house. As you read his story you start to feel sorry for him. He seems to be the one person who can see what is happening to his family but it’s unable to stop it.
The best part of this book, is that it becomes unclear if Henry’s story can be trusted. I really wanted to like him, but I started to question him. It’s a really weird feeling when reading a book, when you have to ask yourself if what you are being told is true. We are so used to being inside of a characters thoughts, or being an omniscient presence, that it is unsettling when you find out you are being told a story by a flawed character at his own discretion. He could honestly say anything and we have no choice to believe it, since he is our only source of truth.
Tho whole book, I was waiting for Henry top do something unexpected. This is where alot of the suspense in the book comes from.
“I’m really sorry I cant pay you back” I said
He shook his head “My father is going to take everything you own and break your life. It’s the least I can bloody do.”The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
What Happened to the Children
In the past, when the police arrived at 16 Cheyne Walk, they found 3 dead adults and a baby in a crib, but we know there were 4 teenagers living there too. So what happened to them? The present day has no clues, which is why Henry’s story is so important. For me this was the most compelling aspect to the story. Clearly something bad happened, and the fact that this was kept a mystery until the end, really kept my interest in the story.
The Family Upstairs was a good, suspenseful read, that I would recommend to anyone who likes mysteries and thrillers. It was interested the whole book, and it had a great ending that made you want the book to continue, so you could find out what would happen next.