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Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
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Did You Ever Have a Family (2015)

by Bill Clegg

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9568113,096 (4)118
  1. 00
    The Untelling by Tayari Jones (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The characters in these novels are haunted by the sudden accidental deaths of family members. Dealing with grief and survivor's guilt, they slowly learn to bear the pain and find new meaning in life. Both are bittersweet and haunting stories.… (more)
  2. 11
    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: A book about trauma, guilt and complicated grief. The effect of secrets and drugs on lives and families.
  3. 00
    The Shore by Sara Taylor (charl08)
    charl08: Similar style of linked narration by different members of a community, with convincing distinctive voices, dealing with theme of family.
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» See also 118 mentions

English (80)  Piratical (1)  All languages (81)
Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
At its core this is a novel about family, all different types but people who are drawn together in missed opportunities, misunderstanding and the circumstances of life.
It is a terribly sad book as we witness people’s responses to a tragic accident the night before a wedding when the novel’s characters lose a daughter, two lose a son and must figure out how to go on.
Well written, tender and thoughtful. Hold your family close and be grateful to have them. ( )
  Smits | Sep 13, 2018 |
It's a good book, quite well-written. Given the premise, I anticipated melodrama, and I think Clegg did a great job of steering away from that. If I have a complaint, it's that there are too many viewpoint characters for such a slim volume -- I would rather have seen Clegg really explore two or three characters than simply touching on so many. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
4.5 stars. ( )
  UDT | May 1, 2018 |
Decent entry in the grief genre. I don't particularly like the grief genre, though. Tearjerkers don't resonate with me. And I'm not someone who feels regret often (lucky me!). I'm a "what's done is done. I'm a good person and I've done the best I could" person (lucky me!). I think the only grief book I've read and really, really liked is [b:A Single Man|16842|A Single Man|Christopher Isherwood|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1380688373s/16842.jpg|1802690]. Damn, that book was beautiful. Read that one, seriously. Although it was more like "Grief and Anger" than "Grief and Regret."

Anyway. This one was generic, except for the inclusion of biracial people (like me! yay!) and a lesbian couple (not like me! yay!). But otherwise completely focused on a sad, upper class mother from New York who works in the art industry and somewhat less focused on a sad, lower class mother from a ruined small town and everything and everyone progresses as expected.

I got this from Powell's indiespensible book club, and I had a goal that I was going to read them, dammit. And I read this one in a day while I was sick. I'll probably forget everything about it tomorrow. Although... that book club mail package also had an interview with the author, who had a drug problem. And in the interview, there was an author this author was excited about (I forget who) that had written a book (I forget what), but it was about someone with an alcoholic father, yadda yadda yadda, probably either rich or poor (these tragedy books seem to either focus on either really rich or really poor people, for extra tragedy). And I just had this flash of insight that I think I will take with me for a long time, about the bone deep relationship addicts and former addicts have with Regret, a life-long relationship that I cannot even begin to fathom. And the emotion I felt reading that single sentence praising this other author's work in that pamphlet was sadder, and more emphatic, than anything I had read in the actual book.

Going to read comics about vampires now. ( )
  Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
Another book that fizzled. I heard about this being promoted: a woman loses her family in a horrible moment and decides to drive away from it all and move to the other side of the US. It sounded like an emotional and deep read, was being heralded and apparently listed for awards. Sounds like a good pickup, right?
 
Not really. It's unbelievably slow. It's really strange because the book actually starts out with the accident. I thought it would grab me or at least hold my attention, but it really didn't. Something about the writing style puts me off. Aside from the multiple POVs (which is something that rarely works for me), there's something with the narration that bothers me. At first I almost felt like it was actually supposed to be written in the second person rather than the third. I'm not sure what it is, but it was off-putting.
 
I also really dislike the multiple POVs here because it's too many characters. The reader really doesn't need to read/hear the story from so many voices and need so many plot points. I don't know if the author was trying to create some sort of "distance" for the reader when looking at the story in the framework of the tragedy but it made it very difficult for me to get into the characters, their motivations, why should I care, etc.
 
It was not at all engaging or interesting. Yet another book that I can't understand why it has so much praise. Library borrow for sure and don't be sad if there's a long waitlist. It's not a "must read" by any means. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
Catastrophe and misfortune are a novelist’s friends, dramatic devices that provide a plot and let characters demonstrate their range. Tragedies tunnel through life, and the suspense comes from seeing how these spaces will be filled. This is what excites us about books that begin with a sorrowful bang. Grief is sad — we know that — but what now? How will these particular characters respond? What else do you have to give us?

In his masterly first novel, “Did You Ever Have a Family,” Bill Clegg gives us June Reid, a small Connecticut town and a fire on the eve of June’s daughter’s wedding that obliterates everything: June’s home, her boyfriend, her ex-husband, her daughter and her daughter’s fiancé. How could anyone react to such unfathomable loss? June responds by making a zombielike crawl west to a seaside motel in Moclips, Wash., where she now hides, rarely leaving her room.
 
Like Anne Tyler, another contender for this year’s Man Booker, Clegg is a master of investing the mundane with what John Updike called “its beautiful due”. ....What sustains us in the end is sympathy, kindness, the electrical hum of connection with others, however faint. Clegg takes occasional missteps –the unlikely redemption offered by an unsent letter accidentally discovered seems like cheating – but for the most part this is a wonderful and deeply moving novel, which compels us to look directly into the dark night of our deepest fears and then quietly, step by tiny step, guides us towards the first pink smudges of the dawn.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bill Cleggprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bragg, BillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
You should have
   heard him, 
      his voice was
unforgettable, irresistible, his voice
was an imaginary garden woven through with fragrance.

Did you ever have a family?
   Their eyes are closed.
That's how I know
   we're there
       inside it, 
it's made of sound and steam
that weaves between dark
dining room, bright kitchen.
We're there because I'm hungry, 
and we'll all be eating soon
        together, and the hunger's sweet

Alan Shapiro, "Song and Dance"
Dedication
For Van, and for our families
First words
He wakes to the sound of sirens. Many, loud, and very near.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
amazon ca The stunning debut novel from bestselling author Bill Clegg is a magnificently powerful story about a circle of people who find solace in the least likely of places as they cope with a horrific tragedy.

On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is completely devastated when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiancé, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke—her entire family, all gone in a moment. And June is the only survivor.

Alone and directionless, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town. In her wake, a community emerges, weaving a beautiful and surprising web of connections through shared heartbreak.

From the couple running a motel on the Pacific Ocean where June eventually settles into a quiet half-life, to the wedding’s caterer whose bill has been forgotten, to Luke’s mother, the shattered outcast of the town—everyone touched by the tragedy is changed as truths about their near and far histories finally come to light.

Elegant and heartrending, and one of the most accomplished fiction debuts of the year, Did You Ever Have a Family is an absorbing, unforgettable tale that reveals humanity at its best through forgiveness and hope. At its core is a celebration of family—the ones we are born with and the ones we
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"On the eve of her daughter's wedding, June Reid's life is completely devastated when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter's fiance, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke--her entire family, all gone in a moment. And June is the only survivor. Alone and directionless, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town. In her wake, a community emerges, weaving a beautiful and surprising web of connections through shared heartbreak. From the couple running a motel on the Pacific Ocean where June eventually settles into a quiet half-life, to the wedding's caterer whose bill has been forgotten, to Luke's mother, the shattered outcast of the town--everyone touched by the tragedy is changed as truths about their near and far histories finally come to light" --… (more)

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