Cover Image: House of Yesterday

House of Yesterday

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to the free advanced digital copy of this book.

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I was SO here for taking the weight of generational trauma and the ripple effects of memories, pain, and grief through a family and making it supernatural and almost impossible to ignore. Fiction is meant to be a lens through which we can view reality, and this story really hammered that home with haunting moments and beautiful prose that doesn't shy away from difficult topics, large and small.

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If you are looking for some different and more diverse books, then this is definitely for you! This book investigates the life of 15 year old Sara who is facing the 'world of unknowns and uncertainties'. This was such a good story and I loved it! The author is of afghan-uzbek heritage and this is seen throughout the book as well! I am obsessed! The writing was also really good and the story was gripping. Its a must read!

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Thank you Netgalley and MacMillian Publishing for my advance readers copy of House of Yesterday!

My grandmother rattles this question a dozen times a day. 𝑾𝒉𝒐 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖 when I was my face in the morning. 𝑾𝒉𝒐 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖 when I pour her a cup of tea for breakfast. 𝑾𝒉𝒐 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖 when I watch her carefully draw her eyebrows in the mirror. Her eyes never leave me. They watch as I struggle to answer her.

Who am I?
I am Sara Rahmat and not.
I am American and not.
I am Afghan-Uzbek and not.
I am the product of a grand love story and not.
I am and I am not.

My baba jan used to remind me, 𝒉𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒚 𝒊𝒔 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒆𝒔 𝒖𝒔, and without it we are doomed to lose our way again and again. But as the moonlight from my bedroom window scatters my thoughts, I realize it is this history that has set all of us spinning so far off course” (𝐶ℎ𝑎𝑝𝑡𝑒𝑟 14, 𝑝𝑎𝑔𝑒 166).

This is one of my favorite quotes from the novel; the prose and lyrical tones are absolutely beautiful.

I absolutely loved this novel. The strong verse, characters and emotion filled in each chapter had my eyes watering with tears. I could relate to 15 year-old Sara’s battling emotions to the sudden family changes; from her parents fighting, to ignoring her best friend, and the hurt from her grandmother’s dementia. Sara feels like she’s drowning, losing the life she used to have before everything went wrong. But a chance encounter with an abandoned house tied to her family’s past forces Sara to really look at her issues and face the cause of her spiraling into panic.

This novel is hauntingly beautiful, painful, and freeing. If you haven’t read House of Yesterday, definitely do so, packed with generational behaviors and the journey of grief and change, this novel will leave you appreciating the things you can change and accepting the things you can’t.

RATING ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5

I especially love the complexities of Sara, while she wants to know the truth of her grandmother’s past, she also doesn’t want to fast the truth about her future and what the new changes mean.

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This was a dnf for me. The characters did not grip my attention and I could not continue. I may try again later as I deeply wanted to love this.

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I found this one a bit of a challenge. The experience, the atmosphere, the approach are all bit foreign. It was difficult for me to engage and understand the character motivations. I felt like I was missing important context.

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I thought this had a lot of potential, but the buildup took way too long, despite the book being so short, and the writing wasn't engaging me emotionally like it should have.

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An inter-generational magic-infused contemporary YA about an Afghan-Uzbek immigrant family's past. someone started cutting onions next to me while I was reading this. Basically, this debut is spooky and sentimental. Full review will be posted on the blog on March 06, 2023 and will be updated on here too.

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I was so pleasantly swept up into this magical realism tale. I thought the author did a great job of balancing the ghostly visions with deep emotions. This allowed the story to come to life instead of being kitschy.

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The book starts with the emotional aspects of a granddaughter - grandmother relationship where the grandmother is slowly forgetting everything because of her dementia. Sara is getting torn between all of these, her parent's divorce, her sick grandmother, family trauma, grief, major life changes and all of these are taking a toll on her life. Gradually the story slides into a paranormal eerie situation that lingers on until the mystery unravels.
The Author has represented a diverse story, featuring a Muslim main character of Afgan-Uzbek heritage and has beautifully depicted all the sides of being an immigrant. The author herself being from the same heritage and also an immigrant poured her feelings into the story which the readers also can connect with emotionally.
The story touches all the sides of a family, good and bad. Anyone who had the same experience as Sara can definitely connect with her.
The narration is quite smooth and uniquely written. The language is also easy.
Overall a heart-warming read about love, loss, joy and grief.

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I felt for Sara as she was struggling with her parents' divorce and her Bibi's failing health. Being a teenager is tough, so add in this weird haunted but not haunted house and she's got a lot going on. I liked the idea of this house and how it affected Sara. I wish someone noticed she wasn't herself and tried to help her, but besides that the magical realism aspect of it was very interesting!

Thank you to the publisher and BooksForwardFriends for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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House of Yesterday had a lot of potential, but it didn’t impact me as deeply as I had hoped.

The writing is pretty and often poetic. Much of its overall beauty stems from the themes it addresses. MC Sara’s life is full of upheaval, which intersects with her large Afghan-Uzbek family’s past of loss and immigration. Though Sara’s behavior often irritated me, it fit her character’s age and circumstances.

I’m always appreciative of magical realism, but it felt underdeveloped in House of Yesterday. There are signs that the house itself contributes to Sara’s family forgetting a major family secret, but the anthropomorphism wasn’t strong enough to dispel my confusion. The flashbacks, though insightful, were a bit scattered, and restricted my emotional connection to the MC.

House of Yesterday will appeal to those interested in family-centered stories with generational paranormal activity, but it didn’t fully absorb me.

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In this paranormal story, Sara is the descendant of Afghan-Uzbek refugees dealing with the impact immigration has had on her family for generations.

Whilst experiencing the divorce of her parents, she begins helping her mother flip a home. But whenever Sara goes into that home, she is literally confronted by the ghosts of her past.

She can't stop searching for answers from the ghost she realizes is a much younger version of her grandmother, Bibi Jan. But as she tries to untangle the secrets her grandmother has held tight to her chest, her own grib on familial relationships starts to unravel.

While I was frustrated at Sara numerous times for acting like a teenager (which she is as is the audience for this book) I found the story to be a lovely tribute to the bonds of family and the traditions we never leave behind.

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I know this isn’t my typical type of read, but something about this book just grabbed my attention. These days, I’m a sucker for any sort of exploration of grief and all the many different ways that looks in literature. Specifically, I was very curious about the idea of intergenerational grief and all the squishy, complicated, messy human emotions and dynamics that go along with it.

House of Yesterday is a heartfelt exploration into what it means to be a family—how culture is passed on, and the way ghosts (and secrets) can haunt a family. It’s a beautifully written YA coming of age story.

I had actually hit a pretty hardcore reading slump before picking up this book, and boy did it break me out of it! I was so curious about where the mystery was going and what secrets Sara would uncover (and, more importantly, what it would mean for the rest of her family). The paranormal elements were enough to give me goosebumps, but not so overdone that they were ridiculous. I actually really enjoyed the atmosphere Zargarpur created with them!

My Thoughts

- Zargarpur creates a tense, spooky atmosphere in this paranormal mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems and everyone has their own secrets to protect. That maybe sounds a little more sinister than I intended it to. Hmm. At its core, this is a story about multigenerational trauma, not really a ghost story. But make no mistake, there is a spookiness at the heart of this story, too. Zargarpur does a great job of ratcheting up the tension until it gives readers goosebumps, and I was 100% here for that. When Sara finds out that the new house her mother is working on flipping is haunted, it’s not nearly as concerning as the fact that the place is somehow tied to her grandmother. Unfortunately for Sara, her grandmother is in the late stages of dementia, with more unclear days than lucid ones, so asking her for the truth isn’t really an option. Meanwhile, the potential secrets of the house become an obsessive distraction from Sara’s own secrets, like her feelings for her neighbor and her feelings about her parents’ failing relationship. Despite being a contemporary story through and through, the paranormal aspects add some much-needed tension and suspense. If you’re like me and don’t tend to love slice-of-life contemporaries, there is plenty here to grab your attention and keep you coming back for more. Even the ghosts in this book have their own secrets.

- There’s a sweet little budding will they/won’t they romance in this, for those who love the trope . . . complicated by the fact that, despite being childhood friends, the two have hit the stage of their life where they’re growing and changing, and not always in ways that are bound to bring them together. Sara has been best friends with Sam for most of their lives. It helps that they live next to each other, of course. Traditional guy-next-door trope, right? Except Sara has done her best to push Sam away without telling him why, and the idea of spending time with him is incredibly stressful for her. Like many things in life, it’s complicated. The romance is very sweet and almost non-existent, focusing more on the friendship, which I preferred. There were definite moments of this relationship that had me frustrated over how the characters behaved, but you know what? They’re both kids. They have every right to make mistakes (and hopefully learn from them). Heck, I still don’t have everything about romance figured out and I’ve been married for 14 years! So I think there are plenty of things in this back-and-forth situation that readers will be able to relate to. Plus, the two of them together? They’ve just got an awesome dynamic, even when it’s awkward and they’re trying not to.

- Throughout the course of this book, Sara is trying to come to grips with who she is . . . both as an almost-adult on her own, but also as a daughter and granddaughter, as someone who inherits things from her family, for better or worse. This theme plucks so hard at my heartstrings, because our family tends to be either our first love or our first trauma. Sometimes both. It’s more than just genes that we inherit from our ancestors. Sometimes we inherit trauma. Sometimes we inherit secrets. I absolutely loved the way the book explored this and how Sara had to come to grips with the fact that some of what she had grown up believing may not have been true. But then, of course, where does that leave her, when what she thought was her foundation was at least partially a lie?

- Sara isn’t the only one trying to find herself over the course of this book, and one of my favorite things about the story is the way the family comes together to support each other and that all the characters are struggling with their own identity crises. Because what’s more relatable than an identity crisis, am I right? We’ve all been there. Heck, most of us are probably still there. Since this is a YA, it’s easy to dismiss Sara’s struggles as being a stumbling block for the young, but Zargarpur does an amazing job of challenging that assumption and showing that everyone has their own ghosts they’re trying to exorcise, regardless of their age. The most beautiful thing about all of this is that none of them are alone in their struggles. Okay, sure, their initial reactions are to push others away, which is where Sara finds herself, even as she desperately wants someone to help. That’s a pretty natural reaction. But in the end, they’re surrounded by family that’s going to throw them a lifeline whether they like it or not,

Sticking Points

- After such a beautifully written, emotionally gut-wrenching novel, the ending felt a bit rushed and seemed to sweep some pretty big revelations under the rug in favor of a neatly wrapped up happy ending. The idea of a happily ever after ending is less necessary in young adult fiction than, say, middle grade fiction, so I was a little confused (and kind of disappointed) that a book that was so raw and honest for the majority of it chose this approach. However, I know a lot of people who want their books to wrap up like this, so this is really just a matter of how you like your tea. I like mine spilled and just a little bit shady, okay? The lead-up to the end was a little confusing and crossed over from creepy paranormal to . . . something else? But there didn’t seem to be any real fallout from the revelations and things Sara learns, which means that I had all these emotions from reading her story and absolutely no outlet for them. No one else in the book seemed to share these feelings, either, which was kind of a bummer.

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Nothing prepares you for what you find on the inside of a book, for the characters to match your feelings and for the story to include questions you yourself keep asking. I was not looking forward to the tears I knew were coming, because family, memories, the past are each a difficult subject for me...but, oh, how beautiful this story was, how hard yet fulfilling it was to read about Sara, her grief, her anger, her bewilderment, I've never felt more connected to a character.

While going through periods full of the same nature as Sara's feelings, I've found myself wishing to go back to a time when I was happier, more grounded, when things were just right...change is hard, especially when it involves the people you looked up to, those you felt safest with.

The house? What a way to reflect on the ghosts of the past and use it as a means to clear the fog that surrounds the future, a masterfully created atmosphere.

Deeba Zargarpur has written a tale so moving and expressive, it touched many subjects, from caring for a family member with dementia, to divorce and how it affects the children, family trauma and immigration, while knitting into the story her own Afghan-Uzbek legacy.

We each survive with grief and guilt in our own way. Maybe it would be nice to be kind to ourselves from time to time and reach out and share those burdens with someone.

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I thoroughly enjoyed The House of Yesterday, a young adult debut novel by Deeba Zargarpur. The story is original and unique. The author takes inspiration from her own Afghan-Uzbek heritage to weave a beautiful, sad, and haunting story.
At 15-years-old, Sara’s life is falling apart. She is named after her beloved grandmother, Bibi Jan, who sadly, suffers from dementia. Sara is the light for Bibi Jan. Simultaneously, Sara’s parents are getting a divorce. In the midst of it all, her grandmother reveals a family secret that consumes Sara’s summer and challenges adored family stories.
Thank you Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Netgalley for the gifted e-Arc.

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This was a solid 3.5 for me, but I rounded up to 4 due to the fantastic narration skills Deeba implemented through Sara and the all-too-real dynamic of culture. A family pretending to be okay when everything is clearly NOT hit too close to home.

This brings me to my next point. The end of PART II, to say the least. I could be someone who might've read this all too fast at half past 3AM thinking: "Okay, I want to see how this ends because it's been long enough." And maybe I had zero idea on how it would end, so it left me a little winded and more heartbroken that there wasn't a true, realistic silver-lining. Maybe I thought this was going to be the disappointing end to Hereditary where I thought it wasn't actually Devil worshipping and actually psychological, because the truth is, Sara has a lot of trauma and I would've definitely accepted that answer.

Instead, we're faced with something a little more magical, a little more...something of the horror side. An offering for the house of Sumner, spoiled with secrets. With how brilliant this novel was from beginning to middle, the last eighty pages fell short for me. I don't know if it was intended to be a whimsical display (see Vassa in the Night or Never Contended Things), but it didn't sit well with me. It seemed rushed and not too fleshed out, a plot twist that wasn't necessarily a twist as it was a last second pulling of the rug out from under your feet.

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A moving, family-centric YA novel about grief and memory, House of Yesterday follows fifteen-year-old Sara as she navigates a summer helping her mom renovate homes, only to discover that their latest fixer upper has deeper ties to her grandmother, Bibi Jan, who immigrated to the US ahead of other Afghan-Uzbek family members. With inter-generational magic and trauma alike impacting Sara, expect both spooky vibes and many tears. Her large family is a delight, and the depiction of her grandmother’s dementia is tenderly portrayed. I experienced that decline with my own grandmother and it struck deep.

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Sara is not doing great, her parents have had one fight too many and have been separated for some time now, her grandmother is losing her memory and she hasn't talked to her best friend in a while.
Things go from bad to worse when she runs into a girl no one else can see. She doesn't know who she is but she can see her memories and they're related to her family so Sara will do everything in her power to figure out what the deal is.

This was good. I liked the main character, who was so very flawed and layered and I thought that made her captivating. I really wanted to understand what the heck was going on and I enjoyed seeing Sara's relationships evolve with everyone around her.
Basically, this was a good, enjoyable book but I wasn't 100% in. I listened to it on audio (thank you also Netgalley), and I had some trouble staying focused all the time. But that was probably just a me problem. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a family story that has a supernatural element, especially if you want a story that isn't the ordinary one you've read over and over again. I will definitely be on the lookout for more from this author.

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- HOUSE OF YESTERDAY is such a unique book, and it's also an emotional gut punch.
- I loved how the magical elements slowly unraveled the secrets of Sara's family in a way that kept me turning the pages.
- This book is not just a mystery, it's also an exploration of family - of both losing it and finding it - and how you can have both good and bad experiences within one family (or even both with one person).
- Please do check the content warnings on this one, as it's quite heavy for a YA novel. It's really worth it though if you can, for both the story and the representation of cultures and experiences we don't often see in books.

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