Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg

did you everJune Reid pinned a lot of hopes on her daughter Lolly’s wedding day – a day that never came, after a gas leak and fire destroyed June’s home and killed Lolly and her fiancé Will, June’s boyfriend Luke, and June’s ex-husband.

June is lucky to be alive, or is she?  Moorless and utterly alone for the first time, she wants nothing more than to permanently leave the small Connecticut town where she has lived.  The house is gone, anyone she loved is dead, and so June disappears, down the open road – to end up at an aged motor court on the Washington State coast, as far from familiarity as she can get.  After all, June has no ties with anybody, anymore, and room 6 becomes the closest thing to home she can define.

There’s other stories than June’s, as she has more connections than she would think.  There’s Lydia, Luke’s mother, who learns grief and remorse in equal measure, as she makes her way through her half-life of limited social contacts, most notably with a mysterious stranger’s phone calls, from which she derives a strange sort of comfort.  There’s the father of Will, who recollects his son as an old soul, conscientious and caring.  There’s Silas, a fifteen year old kid who lives for a quick buzz and may know more about the fire than anyone else.  There’s also the couple that run the motel, who have their own reasons for living there, the place becoming very much a retreat for them, and Cissy, the stoic cleaning lady at the motel, who for months is June’s only contact.

Did You Ever Have A Family chronicles the dark places people go to in the wake of tragedies.  With such a large cast of voices, the time periods tend to jump, sometimes abruptly.  The book is written in a very quiet, recollective manner, and as such the prose drives the narrative much more than dialogue.

I haven’t read anything else by Clegg (this is his first novel; he’s written two previous memoirs), but he definitely immerses the reader early on.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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One Response

  1. I like the sound of this one a lot, it’s an interesting premise.

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