The History of Us by Leah Stewart tackles some hard truths in my opinion. It speaks of choices- choices to be who you want to be, choices to have a career- to being sucessful. It also tackles the topic of when a “choice” is not really a choice. Do you give up everything you’ve worked hard for to do the “right” thing- espeicially it it’s something that you never wanted? Or do you put yourself- dreams, goals, career- above it all?
Eloise, a young professor at Harvard, is late for her class. Right before she’s about to go into her class, she gets a phone call that changes everything in her life. Her niece, Theo, has called- Eloise’s sister, Rachel and her husband have died. As quickly as Eloise can, she hurries back to Cincinnati to see what needs to be done in regard to the death of her sister. What Eloise finds is a form of chaos- her own mother not able to take care of the 3 kids that Rachel has left behind in the world. Eloise makes the necessary, but tough choice that she’ll move back to Cincinnati, take over care for the kids, and try to ensure that they have a happy and productive life.
Years later, Eloise is still watching over the kids. Still has her life on hold. She still dreams of work at a more prestigious university, publishing more, being able to live her life the way she wants. The house they live in needs much up-keep- she’s ready to have a smaller place. With the kids being grown up, it seems time is right for some changes. Francine, Eloise’s mother, promised to turn the deed to the house to her once the last kid is grown up so that Eloise can do with the house what she needs.
However, the best laid plans do not always happen. Francine does not give the deed to Eloise as promised. The story from this point on becomes a story of the life of the 3 children- Theo, Josh and Claire. The disappointments they feel, how they’ve grown into adults, the ways they still are children. At the heart of the story is two things: Choices and at what point do people become responsible for their own happiness? At what point does a person put their energy into making the life they have been living the life they want- instead of thinking about past dreams and things that cannot be changed?
The History of Us– smartly written characters, characters that can be identified with, situations that make the reader laugh and cry. This book has the writing to evoke emotion- happiness, sadness, even anger at some of the events. Read this, discuss with friends, take some time to think about this book, the plot and the characters. This is a book that the reader does not just read and put aside to never think of again. This is a book that has content that begs to be discussed, to be analyzed.
I highly recommend this book for fans of fiction, books about families, and good stories. Thank you Touchstone Books for providing a review copy.