Cover Image: Born in a House of Glass

Born in a House of Glass

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Member Reviews

Born in a House of Glass tells the story of what happens when secrets and lies overwhelm a family. Do you let the suffering, and anger consume you and define your life? Or do you try to fight through pain with the hope that there is something better waiting for you on the other side?

Udonwa has grown up in a house of anger and violence. From her earliest days, she knows her father is hated and reviled by her entire family for his abusive nature. But she still loves him dearly and feels that she is the only one to understand him. As she grows up, she starts to learn about events that have happened in the past that drastically change the way she views her father and her childhood. The consequence of learning about these events spins her life out of control, and she fears that she will never be able to gain control again.

I have mixed feelings about this book, so I'll start with the positives:
-I loved the Nigerian representation in this book. I am Yoruba, so it was refreshing to read a story with customs, food, and sayings that were recognizable. Even though the way the author depicts Yoruba people was less than complimentary, it was still enjoyable.
-I enjoyed the exploration of themes in this book. The author discusses generational curses and behaviors, and also frequently discusses how people use religion to excuse or hide horrible acts. She also discusses the internal struggle between traditional ideas and modern ideas that a person can have in a religious and patriarchal society.
-The writing is very good in this story. I would definitely pick up another book by this author. It was written so that you felt very present in the story, almost like you were in the same room with the characters. There were several beautiful lines that so clearly expressed the emotion of the characters:
"I knew I shouldn't trust anyone who could not bring any solace to my weary soul. I knew I shouldn't have trusted someone who hadn't done anything to help me but was happy to take my money."

Okay, so the things that were not great:
-The time jumps are not handled well at all. You'll read one chapter and the next chapter will be three years later with no warning or transition, and I found myself frequently struggling to understand where in time we were.
-I wish there had been more exploration of the main character's complicated feelings toward her father. Honestly, everything about her childhood and her siblings needed more grace and depth than what we got. There was a chapter where her older brother is accused of something horrible, and we don't hear about it again until maybe ten chapters later. I would have loved more sensitivity and discussion around these topics.
-I think this should have been written as a collection of vignettes instead of a full length novel. Short, punchy connected glimpses would have been a better way to interact with these characters and everything that happened to them. Or perhaps narrowing in a certain point in her life, like her mid twenties, with the childhood events told in flashback would have helped to really explore the events. I was very unsurprised to learn that the idea behind the book had originally appeared as a short story, because the book has the feel of a group of snapshots smushed together.

So overall, this isn't a bad book, but there are things that could have been done better. I would recommend it with several caveats and lots of trigger warnings.

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I am completely in awe of Born in a House of Glass. It is such a poignant and uplifting story about a girl from a small town in Nigeria and her navigation of this world as she becomes a women. You see the aftermath of what lies have built, thinking you know something to be true but in all the time you knew nothing of the truth. The tiny world that is created for a child, fractures and upends when the lies expose themselves, and what that does to the individual, cracking their framework and causing anger, doubt and sadness to fill the gaps. I am shook!

This book was so beautifully written. Udonwa is just a fantastic character that I was completely hook to see her story play out for me. I highly recommend this book. Exquisit! 5 stars

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Thank you to #NetGalley for the e-arc.

The beginning was gripping - we see an abusive father who also seems to have a soft side for his youngest children, especially the youngest one, the main character Udonwa. Udonwa, as a young child, has trouble recounciling the abuse he dishes out to other members of the family and the care he seems to give to her. Having mixed feelings about a parent because you see both his abuse and his nicer side is something I relate to strongly. I became invested the family and was curious to see how Udonwa would recouncil these feelings as she grows up.

Unfortunately, the book went downhill for me from there and at various points I almost wanted to DNF. I did end up reading through the whole thing. I do not think I hate the book, but I am truly not a fan, either.

To avoid spoilers, I will say that I did not find the character development of Udonwa convincing and I cared about her less and less as a character, even though I was still invested in the family's journey towards healing and often found their interactions funny and heartwarming.

I loved the way the siblings reconnect, open up and become more honest with each other as they grow up and the way one or multiple members in the family - sometimes a sibling, sometimes an aunt - are there for each other, even if they don't always know the best thing to do. I loved the author's writing of the mundane and the daily things.

The main character's unconvincing development and the way the impact of The Family Secret being revealed was handled made reading the later part of the book a very frustrating experience. I

There are multiple sensitive topics in this book that, in my opinion, are not handled with as much care or nuance as they deserve, such as <spoiler>a false rape allegation and abortion.</spoiler> I was also disappointed in my hope to see Udonwa addressing her complicated feelings abour her father, since <spoiler>we later learn that the father has committed so, many unspeakble crimes that he was no longer a person, more like evil manifestation - though I don't deny that such people exist in real life. There was simply no point in wrestling with love and hate - there is no reason to not hate this man.</spoiler>

I hope the actual book will have a page for content warnings.

I wish I didn't push myself to finish the book as it was clearly not for me. I regret that I am leaving a lukewarm review. I hope it will find its readership.

For a list of (non exhaustive) content warnings I came up with, please refer to my review on storygraph:

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This well written book, set in Nigeria, concerns a young woman, Udonwa, and her highly dysfunctional family. As a young child, she idolised her priest father, and detested the younger of her two elder brothers, Lincoln. She was her father’s favourite, and always saw the best in him – despite his repeated beating of her mother and other children. The father was a nasty piece of work, favouring his neighbour’s son over his own, and dictating which studies/jobs each of his children might follow, irrespective of their desires or talents. Udonwa was to be a doctor.
When her eldest sister married, she took Udonwa with her to her new home – where instead of watching her mother be beaten, Udonwa saw her sister beaten. University came as an escape from the violence.
Initially, at university, Udonwa was a model student. One of her friends describes her as ‘holier-than-thou’, as she disapproved of her friends’ propensity to partying and promiscuity.
But all that changes when Udonwa overhears her eldest sister and mother talking, and the family’s devastating secrets come out.
Udonwa’s world is blown asunder, and she goes completely off the rails. She has to confront the evil that her beloved father has done, while not destroying herself.
I did not particularly warm to Udonwa in the first part of the book. She resolutely overlooks her father’s obvious flaws (though to be fair, she doesn’t know the half of it yet) because he is nice to her, and pays the school fees. Besides, he is a respected preacher. Lincoln gets the worst treatment – which Udonwa sees as fully deserved. After the revelations, after the wild behaviour, and once Lincoln (transformed into a caring, successful young man) takes her in hand – Udonwa becomes a much more sympathetic character. Now, not everything is about her, about her betrayal, and about her pain. She is finally able to think of others.
The basic story line could have happened anywhere, but I really liked the setting of the book in Nigeria (a few chapters in South Africa), with Igbo words (exclamations) scattered throughout the text. It is a terrible story, thankfully not described in detail, but one with an eventual healing ending.

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Thank you @netgalley and @chinenyeemezieauthor
…a novel of exploration of one’s identity and Christian religion …it triggers me so I’ll stop here but overall very enlightening!

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"House of Glass" promised an intriguing journey into mystery and suspense, but unfortunately fell short of expectations. From the onset, the narrative felt disjointed, with portions that didn't quite match up, leaving readers feeling disoriented and disconnected from the story.

As the plot unfolded, instead of weaving a cohesive tale, the story seemed to meander aimlessly, lacking the tight structure needed to keep readers engaged. Important plot points were introduced haphazardly, leaving readers hanging until the end, by which time many had either forgotten or lost interest in the outcome.

While there were moments of intrigue and potential, they were overshadowed by the overall lack of coherence in the storytelling. Characters felt underdeveloped and their motivations often unclear, making it difficult for readers to fully invest in their journeys.

Ultimately, "House of Glass" failed to deliver on its promise of a gripping mystery, leaving readers feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. Perhaps with tighter editing and a more focused narrative, the story could have reached its full potential, but as it stands, it falls short of leaving a lasting impression.

Overall, "House of Glass" is a forgettable read that fails to live up to its potential, leaving readers longing for a more satisfying conclusion.

(2/5 stars)

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This book was a nice and easy read, and although I am not familiar with African languages, the context made it easy to understand. The story itself was very good and well developed - the family secrets being heartbreaking but appropriately talked about. My only complaint is with the main character Udonwa. I felt her inner monologue was more about everyone else and not enough about herself. She reveals more about herself and her feelings in the last few chapters of the book, but it did not impact me as much because I didn't have an emotional connection with her. I really like how her story unraveled and enjoyed getting to know her towards the end.
*my honest review has been given in exchange for an advanced copy of this book, thank you so much for sharing this story with me!

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A tricky read given the subject matter but one that was very raw and personal. I felt I was the only person the main character was speaking to. There's lots in the Nigerian language too so that was a nice touch. I felt I learned something I hadn't thought about and it was good to see the main character change and grow despite what she went through.

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Born in a glass house had me intrigued from page one. There were quite a few plot twists that just further prove that all families have their issues. Udonwa character started off so promising and by the second half she lost me and her morals apparently, had me stressed. Without giving away too much, I think if the author would have slowed down and explained everyone’s why, it would make this book a 5 star read for me. Since she did not, I am giving this book 3 stars.

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This was beautiful and made me cry, but also reasearch the stories this book is inspired by. I cried and giggled and some parts it was amazing.

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summary: so this is a narrative book about a woman living in Nigeria. this book explores her choices, her experiences, her life, and what she goes through.

footnotes: this book does mention Igbo a lot, which is a language in Nigeria. There are lots of words/phrases the author doesn't give a translation for, which you will have to translate yourself.

thoughts: i thought the first 25% of this book was interesting, and had some plot. after that, the book went downhill. firstly, the main character is telling us about only herself and her choices. i disagreed with a lot of choices she made, and she never explained them. the other people mentioned in this book are also not explained at all. we get to see what they do, but we never get an explanation as to why they do it. the author writes in a very brash, condescending way that shows she has no respect for the reader or other people mentioned in the book. overall, i found myself frustrated and dragged along for the majority of this book. i would not recommend it.

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This was a truly beautiful story, although beautiful should not be meant to mean happy. Udonwa was born into chaos and silent warfare between family members, some of whom have caused irreparable harm to each other. As she gets older and gains worldly experience, she uncovers dark secrets that shake her perception of reality and identity. She is a strong realistic character who has good moments and bad moments, and who longs for freedom from her scarred past. She's someone you want to root for, even if the journey to peace isn't sunshine and rainbows. Great read, thank you NetGalley!

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Udonwa's family has been embroiled in a longstanding conflict, shrouding their home in an atmosphere of fear, anger, pain, and terror. Amidst these complexities, a thread of love endures within the cracks. Unveiling the hidden secrets of her family becomes a seismic event that challenges Udonwa's very sense of identity.

I've always been drawn to books exploring intricate family dynamics, and this novel delves deep into the complexities of familial relationships. Chinenye Emezie skillfully presents a myriad of perspectives and evolving beliefs within the characters, while exploring emotional intricacies are handled with sensitivity, never diminishing their complexity.

I appreciate how the author navigates these challenging themes, making it a compelling and thought-provoking read. My four-star rating reflects the depth and skill with which the author addresses these nuanced family dynamics

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Udonwa’s family has been at war for longer than she can remember. Their house is full of fear, anger, pain, and terror, and somehow there is still love tucked into the cracks. All families have secrets and when her family’s come spilling out it will shake the very foundation of who she believes herself to be.

I have always loved books about complicated family relationships, and this book digs into an incredibly complicated family. I think Chinenye Emezie showcases a lot of differing perspectives and beliefs that grow and change in most of the characters without seeming to judge or condemn them. The topics explored in this book are emotionally complicated and not once are they ever treated as less than that.

Thank you to Dundurn Press and Netgalley for letting me review this book. Releasing Aug 13, 2024

The topics and situations in this book might be upsetting to some readers.

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I really enjoyed this book and it outside my usual genre. This story touches on such heart wrenching topics it will absolutely make you cry. This is a beautiful debut novel

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A haunting debut by Chinenye Emezie that follows the story of Udonwa, a young Nigerian girl, as she grows into adulthood and learns the dark secrets her family has tried to keep from her.

I went into this not knowing what to expect. The subject matter is unsettling and it is certainly not an easy read, but ultimately this is a story of a young woman coming to terms with her past and learning to love herself in spite of it.

Thank you to Dundurn Press and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release date: 13 Aug, 2024

TW: Domestic abuse, rape

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Udonwa’s family has been at war for longer then she can remember. Their house is full of fear, anger, pain, terror, and somehow there is still love tucked into the cracks. All families have secrets and when her family’s come spilling out it will shake the very foundation of who she believes herself to be.

I have always loved books about complicated family relationships, and this book really digs into an incredibly complicated family. I think Chinenye Emezie showcases a lot of differing perspectives and beliefs that grow and change in most of the characters without seeming to judge or condemn them. The topics explored in this book are emotionally complicated and not once are they ever treated as less then that.

Thank you to @dundurnpress and @netgalley for letting me review this book. Releasing Aug 13 2024

The topics and situations in this book might be upsetting to some readers.

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Such a deep and personal family drama that spans years. Really great characters and although hard to read at times, it’s message stands strong.

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A powerful look into the life of an ambitious, intelligent Nigerian family who is haunted by the specter of domestic abuse.

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Udonwa lives in a family who is at war. Her beloved father Reverend Leonard favours her but beats his wife and his other children. One day , her eldest sister gets married and takes her from their family compound in Iruama, Nigeria, to live with her in Awka. Udonwa life changes and spirals out of control . This book covers heavy topics like domestic violence, and depression. I recommend this book

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