Hello fellow booklovers! Welcome to my segment called Share a story. Here we talk about books that have a common plotline. Today I will highlight the similarities and differences in the plot, narrative characters between two thrillers that I read recently:
Family upstairs by Lisa Jewell and Girl A by Abigail Dean.
Family Upstairs is Lisa Jewel’s probably second most read and reviewed book. Girl A is Abigail Dean’s first venture towards writing. Both books belong to the thriller genre and have been received very well by the reader community. What they really have in common is the general theme of the plot, storyline and the characters. Don’t get me wrong, one is not the carbon copy of the other. Neither is the writing style or the authorial voice. But where one ends the other begins. They both are complimentary to each other.
I began to research if why and how could they be so similar. They both are based on several incidents over the years. The Tupin Family from California seems to be an obvious point of reference. Lisa Jewel said there was no one incident but many over the years the confirmed her want to write this story. Abigail Dean, a lawyer must have come across many strange things during her years of work especially the Tupin family case. As we are constantly reminded by the fictional world that reality is much more bizarre than any made up story we love to read.
Family Upstairs starts with the lone surviving girl child who was barely months old when after the exposure of the cult like family setup was adopted. Girl A is about the girl that got away from similar situation and was responsible for exposing the cult like household. Both have similar characters of brother and sisters who have been removed from school, are malnutritioned, chained and lived in circumstances filthier than you can imagine. Both the books deal with the aftermath of living through such horrible tortures. The PTSD that the characters go through is extensive and the main crux of both the books.
While Family Upstairs takes on a more thriller like plot in unraveling what happened with an almost ghost like figure lurking in the background: Girl A looks at each child that survived the tragedy not just well but have mostly flourished in whatever path they chose. It has a more psychological flavor, making the conflict more silent and internal. Family Upstairs will keep you on the edge making you wonder if there is a paranormal element to it; Girl A creeps up on you. For most of the book it moves in a sort of pulses and while reading I couldn’t pinpoint what was it that I was enjoying more about it: the bizarreness of the whole plot or the fact that a similar setup existed in real life. They lived and survived for years in similar conditions. How the children break free of the bondage is the essence of the both the books. How
the ghost of the past still haunts each one of them and how even 15 to 20 years later they were still dealing with the traumas in their own personal way. The sadness that never goes away nor the sense of familiar bonds that holds the siblings together.
One of the main characters and an important tool in both the books is the house. The key point being inheritance of the house; it gives a chance to unearth the past in Family Upstairs and give the ghost of past a rest in the Book Girl A. The house therefore takes on a role of moving the plot further as well as a sort of melting pot where the two characters who were the first to break away realize that they were really the only ones holding on to the past tighter than their other siblings. These two characters have to come to terms with the reality and let go, both physically and metaphorically.
My verdict? You can’t choose one over the other or say one is better written than the other. You might like one more just because you enjoy a fast-paced thriller more than a slow build up psychological mystery. I read Family Upstairs almost a year before Girl A was released yet I felt like I was reading companion novels. If both are read together simultaneously a lot of questions which are left one in one are answered in the other making them come together in the most fantastic way. Yet there is not a spot of similarity in either of the books apart from the basic plot and structure. Would you enjoy reading both? Absolutely! So, if you haven’t read one over the other please do pick both and enjoy! If you have read either one I hope sincerely you will choose to read the other one as well. And lastly if you fall under the category of people who are like me and have read both the books and have come to the similar conclusions like me, well readers I hope you enjoyed reading my arguments and hopefully have nodded your heads a couple of times too!
Thankyou for stopping by.
Hope you will join me again soon.