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Publisher's Summary

The stunning debut novel from best-selling 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 it is a celebration of family - the ones we are born with and the ones we create.

©2015 Bill Clegg. All rights reserved. (P)2015 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of my favorite books, but sadly, read by author

Amazing debut novel. One of my favorite books of 2015 and worthy of the award bestowed on it. This is a sad but beautiful story surrounding a catastrophic event. Many lives experience indescribable grief. Perfect tone. Beautiful words. Just the right length.

When I read the book summary, I thought I could not read a book so full of loss, so full of pain. I am so glad I made the right choice. This powerful story will stay with me for a long time. I will keep my family even closer.

However, as is often the case, authors usually should not narrate their books. Such an amazing story and they couldn't use a a professional? Mr Clegg narrates in a monotone voice as if he is doing a book reading at a library. There are many voices in this story and it was difficult to think of females speaking when he never changes tone. If I had the option of reading rather than listening, I would have returned the audio and bought the book. So I made the most of it and tried to picture him reading the book and enjoyed the story very much. Just listen to the narration first.

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Writers don't always make the best readers

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I was really enjoying the book but found the narration was so bad I had to buy the written book to finish it. Please consider re-releasing with a different reader.

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lisa
  • Pottstown, PA, United States
  • 02-18-16

Read don't listen to!!!

Great story! The worst story I've ever listened!! Authors should not read their books. Get a professional. No tone change the entire time. Flat mono tone.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Tragedy and grief written incredibly well

Did You Ever Have a Family may possibly be one of the best books I've read this year. If they're done well, I'm a big fan of stories told through the eyes, hearts, and feelings of different characters and multiple perspectives, and Bill Clegg does this incredibly well. This heartbreaking, devastating, almost unimaginable tragedy is a very tough story to tell (and read), but Clegg drew me in with his characters, his writing, and plot.

June Reid loses everything – her daughter, her daughter's fiancee, her boyfriend, ex-husband, all of her identification, clothing and possessions – in an explosive fire the night before her daughter's wedding. A woman gossiping with friends in a coffee shop asks, “How do you recover from that? How would you even begin?” As Clegg begins to answer those questions and the story progresses, small but pertinent pieces are added by those affected directly and peripherally by the tragedy. These pieces recounted by characters serve to further the main story line, but also elucidate their own lives and stories. I had some trouble keeping the characters' relationships straight in the beginning, but found the novel so compelling that I kept reading. Stick with it; the story comes together, and the reward is worth a little reading effort. There are two small things (possible spoilers so I won't include them here) that kept me from giving Did You Ever Have a Family five stars, but this book is still entirely deserving of its place on the Man Booker Longlist.

I read Wave last year, and was surprised that I liked a memoir of unbearable grief so much. Did You Ever Have a Family deals with grief just as beautifully and truthfully. I'll be thinking about this book and its characters for a long time.

A note about the narration: Bill Clegg narrates this book himself, but may not have been the best choice. He has a very flat, blunted affect, which is understandable given the nature of the story, but I had trouble distinguishing when a new character and chapter began. The story is compelling and the narration didn't ruin that for me, but it would easily have been a 5-star listen for me with better narration.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

"Bueller... Bueller... Bueller."

This might be the best fiction in the history of modern literature, but you wouldn't know it because of the monotone narration.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Enthralling Narrative; Very Poor Choice Narrator

How disappointing to have the author read his own work. Occasionally that is a good choice, but this time terrible. It was confusing as an audible book because all the character & gender changes but the voices remain flat & monotonous. I regret not reading it as words on the page. Then at least I could have made those voice and gender changes in my own mind.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Debra
  • Michigan
  • 10-11-15

Did You Ever Have a Family

Several reviews have not like this book because it is read by the author and I guess they feel his reading is not animated. However, I loved the book and the reading by the author. This is a beautifully written story of loss and grief and I think it would be diminished the over-theatrical readings that many audio books have and thought the simple narrative reading style of the author was very appropriate.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

This Author should not narrate!

Would you try another book from Bill Clegg and/or Bill Clegg?

It was very hard to judge the worth of this book and I am assuming that the author did a good job of it. So I might read or listen to another of his books but not if he is narrating. I couldn't even cope with 10 minutes of his flat, unenthusiastic voice. Narration is a skill - even more so than acting and I cant understand why someone who has spent much time and worked hard to produce a book would not want someone equally skilled to narrate it. Bad choice Bill

What could Bill Clegg have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Found another narrator.

How could the performance have been better?

How could it have been worse. 3 words of advice - Pitch, Pace, Modulation!!!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful listen!!!

One of the best audiobooks I've listened to and I highly recommend it. A real pleasure.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

An Author without training should never narrate

What disappointed you about Did You Ever Have A Family?

The story was not interesting. The narration, by the author, was not good. Someone without training or talent should not undertake to narrate their own story.

Would you be willing to try another one of Bill Clegg’s performances?

No

10 of 12 people found this review helpful