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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.

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9518613,896 (3.98)119
Recently added bySandyDawn, rena75, Oregonpoet, aussiematt, private library, TexasBookLover, Beth.Clarke
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    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)
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    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 119 mentions

English (85)  Piratical (1)  All languages (86)
Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
Just did not do a lot for me. Too many characters, with each short chapter jumping to another person. Hard to get connected to any of them. I wish there had been more development for the characters or less of them in the story. ( )
  jill1121 | Jun 1, 2019 |
This was such a touching and emotional book. It's the study of a woman at the center of a tragedy as well as others touched by her or the tragedy.

I would not have read this book if I had been told the way it is presented; I like my stories logical and linear (although I'm okay with two stories with a common element that flow with time). This book gave nearly as much time to those barely at the center of the drama as it did to June, the most impacted. But, despite this disclaimer, I was intrigued and mesmerized by the story. There were so many characters presented briefly who I feel I completely understood.

A great book. ( )
  Nancyjcbs | May 16, 2019 |
Occasionally trick-sy but overall terrific. There's enough aggregated good stuff in this novel to carry it through despite my early misgivings that we readers were being manipulated and coerced through the story. Ultimately I think he pulls off a delicate balance between affectation and and genuine emotional affect. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
It's going to take me awhile to get over this book. What a poignant tale of grief. Cissy's words on page 291 have tears streaming down my cheeks, bringing back many of my own questions regarding my own tale of grief. ( )
  tntbeckyford | Feb 16, 2019 |
Interesting, beautifully written, and sad. Made me cried twice on the train, so there's that too. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 85 (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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