Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The History of Us by Leah Stewart

Title: The History of Us
Author: Leah Stewart

Publisher: Touchstone

Published Date: January 8, 2013

Buy on Amazon: Paperback & Kindle

Author Website: http://leahstewart.com/site/


Nearly two decades have passed since Eloise Hempel gave up her dream job teaching at Harvard University to return to her hometown of Cincinnati to care for her orphaned nieces and nephew. Now, with Theo, Josh, and Claire grown, she dreams of selling the family house, perhaps even returning to the life she left behind. But when her mother decides not to let Eloise sell the house—and instead promises it to the family member “who needs it most”—unforeseen consequences and revelations threaten to unravel their makeshift family.

My Thoughts:

Leah Stewart's new book, The History of Us, is a fabulous piece of fiction that deals with many of life's disappointments.  Eloise is a young woman with a budding dream career- being a Professor at Harvard.  However, before she can begin to enjoy her new life outside of Ohio she receives the worst phone call of her life.  With her world turned upside down, Eloise finds herself moving back to Cincinnati to care for her three young nieces and nephew after their parents are killed.  Flash forward 17 years and Eloise is still living in the house she grew up in with her three adult 'children' that have no intentions of leaving.  With dreams of selling her childhood home and leaving Ohio behind for good, Eloise has no idea of the struggles she will face by putting herself first.

I believe my favorite character in The History of Us is Josh.  He is fun and a bit lighthearted on the surface until one of his loved ones is in trouble, then the 'serious' Josh emerges.  Stewart did a great job of creating this multifaceted character.  There were many layers to Josh, and they started to peel away as the story went on.  I really enjoyed reading about Josh's budding relationship with Adelaide and his internal struggle with music.  At first I didn't understand why he would quit his band and then want nothing to do with music ever again.  However, Eloise explained his thought patterns to Adelaide quite nicely.  He really did feel like a failure because of his actions and was embarrassed that he gave up his art so easily when Adelaide struggled everyday to be the best dancer she could be.  I would love to read a spinoff of The History of Us featuring Josh and Adelaide.     

Theo is the oldest of the siblings and has always been the perfect child.  Sometimes coming off as judgmental, Theo is always there when her siblings need her advice.  Theo is also very serious and a lot like her Aunt Eloise.  However, one of the major differences is that Theo loves Cincinnati and never wants to leave.  This causes major discord between herself and Eloise.

I felt like I never got to really know the character of Claire.  She was not front and center for much of the novel and the only way we could learn about her was by listening to her family.  For this reason when Claire did get a bigger role I had trouble connecting to her personal situation involving her career and fiancee.  I did really enjoy how Theo discovered Claire's duplicities and the resulting aftermath.       

Leah Stewart's The History of Us is a truly wonderful read.  It is a story about life struggles and how the Hempel family managed to continue on after tragedy befell them.  Stewart created great characters that are not perfect, they deal with the joys and disappointments of life on a day to day basis just like you and I. Heartbreaking at times, The History of Us definitely reminds readers to be grateful for the things that are often taken for granted.       

Leah Stewart

The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of the book, The History of Us, for the purpose of review.


  1. WOW, what a great review!
    It really sounds like a great book. I will check it out.
    I love the idea of the woman having to take over the sibilings.
    Thnks for sharing


  2. Ok I must read this one as it is perfectly up my alley!!!