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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Making of Us
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Lisa Jewell is back on form!

I've loved Lisa's books from the start. Had them pre-ordered every time it was available to do so. But I was disappointed with After the Party and I wasn't sure how I was going to find reading The Making of Us because I'm of the firm belief that sperm donors should be able to keep their anonymity. Then I started seeing amazing reviews for it, so my expectations were high, which isn't always a good thing for me. However, I wasn't disappointed with this one! It was written in the very same style that made Lisa my favourite author ever. Addictive, intriguing and everything set at a steady pace with no lull.

So, where to start without giving too much away? You have three main characters, Lydia, Robyn and Dean, all the result of the same sperm donor years ago. All have had very different upbringings and are in very different places in their lives. Lydia is wealthy and successful, but is missing something in her life that she can't quite understand. Robyn, having always known about her being a sperm donor baby due to health issues in the family, is intelligent and training to be a doctor, but is losing her drive and reasoning for it all. Then there's Dean who has had a poor upbringing and has gotten his girlfriend pregnant.

I don't know exactly how it works for sperm donors and the children getting in touch with each other, but Lisa made this story believable and warm. Nothing felt forced or cheesy. I was there with all three characters as they discovered who they really were and what they needed to do with their lives. They could almost be someone you know they were so fleshed out with their quirks, habits and thoughts.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a feel-good story. This has definitely moved into the slot of being my favourite Lisa Jewell book. I really haven't done enough justice for this book here. So trust me, go read this book. You need to experience it all for yourself to understand my love of Lisa's fantastic storytelling skills.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2013
I loved all of Lisa Jewell's books I read, by this is by far my favourite so far. It has been likened to David Nicholls' "One Day", a novel I also enjoyed, but for me this book is better. While Nicholls' was a clever concept and a nicely told love story, in Jewell's book there is a deeper message to be found. Yes, there is a romance, which is never saccharine sweet - a point I always enjoyed in Lisa's style - but at the core of the book is the theme of "belonging". Lydia, Robyn and Dean are tied by an invisible link that runs in their blood, a link that will bring them together in extraordinary circumstances. All three are seeking their roots, for different reasons. What they will find is that "belonging" is more than sharing genes, that the connections that we make in life - family, friendship, love - define us as much as our DNA, if not more.

The book is beautifully written. I always liked Lisa Jewell's style, but here she has moved up a gear. Once again she is able to spin different narrative threads and bring them all together to form a rich tapestry of characters, events and emotions. The characters are all well depicted and it's easy to empathize with their feelings and the situations they find themselves in.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves well crafted stories with a positive message about life and its many surprises. It's a novel I will read again and again!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2011
I have been reading and recommending Lisa Jewell's books since 1999, and although my main reading choices are History and Science Fiction I genuinely enjoy a good story regardless of the genre. Lisa Jewell's books have never failed to entertain and to keep me totally gripped and emotionally involved. Lisa's latest book - The Making of Us is no exception.

This is a really good read, of various families and characters that come together because of one common factor - their unknown donor father. Each character has his or her issues, difficulties and lives and each back story/ section could be a good book in its self however their combination is brilliant and believable.

I have read a lot over the years and some story plot lines are predictable in other writers, and I thought I had detected some twists and was "cleverly" predicting various endings/outcomes however I got them all wrong. I couldn't put this down and quickly read it over the weekend, I needed to know how things turned out.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good read, and please spread the word. I really feel that Lisa Jewell's work really deserves a much wider audience. I would describe her as one of the best modern novelists of our time, a great story teller who has impressed again and again a reader who normally sticks with Bernard Cornwell, Stephen King and the like!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2011
I am a huge Lisa Jewell fan and have loved all of her books so you can imagine how excited I was to receive a review copy of her latest one. I was a little worried when it arrived though as it had a quote on the back from The Bookseller saying that Lisa Jewell had moved into David Nicholl's territory. Don't get me wrong, I loved One Day by David Nicholls but I feel that Lisa Jewell has a very particular writing style and I was worried that this would have disappeared. I shouldn't have got so stressed though as this book is fabulous and the writer's poignant and witty style was better than ever.
The idea behind the book is just brilliant and Lisa Jewell showed how much research she had done by it all being completely believable and realistic.
I fell in love with all of the characters, Daniel, Lydia, Dean and Robyn. It was almost like getting four books for the price of one as they all have their own stories and backgrounds and I loved getting to know them all.
Lydia is extremely successful and still very young. She is adapting to the new wealth and lifestyle that her success has given her but she still has many questions from the past. She receives an envelope from an anonymous sender and learns that her father was a sperm donor rather than the man who had brought her up. Rather than feeling anger or sadness, it seems that Lydia is almost relieved as it makes certain parts of her past make sense, almost like a weight has been lifted.
Dean is younger than Lydia and has known the true identity of his father for three years. His life is all over the place and he is pushing away everybody that cares for him. A tiny part of him wonders what his siblings are like, are they in as much of a mess as him or would they hold some answers to him sorting his life out?
Robyn is the youngest at 18 and has always know about her father. She is training to be a doctor, the same as her father. On her eighteenth, Robyn's loving parents give her all the information she needs to make contact with her siblings and her real father. At first she is reluctant but then she realises the importance of meeting these people; by knowing them then maybe she will understand a little more about herself.
Daniel is the man who ties these children together, a man they have never met and a man who is running out of time. After revealing his life-long secret to his new friend Maggie, she sets out to find his children and bring them to him before it is too late.
The Making Of Us is a beautiful, poignant book. As I said, I fell in love with each character and only wanted the best for them all. Lisa Jewell has the incredible knack of telling it like it is, she does not give you a happy ending just for the sake of it. The way in which she brought the characters together was brilliant and very realistic. I was really moved by the individual stories of the characters and the ways in which they fitted together as though they had always felt that something was missing.
I urge you to read The Making Of Us and any of Lisa Jewell's other books. She is a fantastic author whose writing I never tire of.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
The Making Of Us is a story of many people, unconnected and completely different to begin until it's revealed each has one thing in common. They share the same donor father. All are at complicated stages of their lives, Lydia, 29, has gone from rags to riches but is desperately lonely and struggling with her past, Dean, 21, has just become a father, but lost the baby's mother in tragic circumstances and is struggling to bond with his daughter, Robyn, the youngest at 18 has moved to London to study medicine, a path she was so sure of until she was on it. In alternating chapters we hear from each of them, as well as Maggie, whose close friend Daniel is terminally ill and has asked her for help to fulfil his dying wish.

Wow, this book is an emotional roller coaster right from the start. The plot is so brutally human and complex yet Lisa Jewell absolutely pulls it off. Once again her skill at creating completely believable, relatable and flawed characters is perfect. I love alternating viewpoints when done well, and in The Making Of Us all four narratives both stand out individually and intertwine to create a heart wrenching and uplifting tale of identity and family. Each chapter is titled with the name of the character we are hearing from, although I do think they have strong enough voices to let the reader differentiate anyway.

I loved all the characters in this book, though in particular Lydia who is so far away from myself in many ways yet surprisingly familiar too. I also really liked Dean, the young brother she discovers through a donor sibling registry, and the developing relationship between the two of them is gorgeous, awkward but touchingly beautiful all at once. What I always love about Jewell's characters is how layered they are, and how she isn't afraid to show their weak and at times pathetic sides-the ones we all have but hide from the world, making them all the more stronger for it. You get the feeling while reading that these people could be ones you pass every day.

The Making Of Us is at times very sad and touching, but also incredibly hopeful and positive for the future. By the end of the book you'll feel you've experienced these peoples journey, you'll be behind them all the way and will leave wishing them the best in their future. This is a novel not about a donor father and his dying wish, but one of identity, knowing yourself, finding a sense of belonging and the ties that bind people to each other. It's compelling from start to finish and I was completely absorbed throughout. I've never been disappointed by Lisa Jewell's work, and I certainly wasn't by The Making Of Us. With each new book I think `this is the best yet' and that's how I felt after turning the last page. This is a book I highly recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2012
Like most Jewell fans you don't hesitate when you see her latest novel hit the shelves and 'The Making of Us' is another example of a convincing, memorable and heart-felt story.

Jewell has clearly stretched herself with this one and handles the piece-ing together of each story with delicacy and wonder. Clearly anyone who doesn't enjoy this should stick to something less dreamy...non-fiction perhaps?!
Buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2012
The making of us was a shift away from what I have come to expect from Lisa, but her writing style, once again, is unmistakeable. I didn't really know what to expect from reading the back cover but dived into it wholeheartedly nonetheless.

The main characters in the book are Lydia, Dean, Robyn, Maggie and Daniel; all intrinsically linked, and yet almost drifting through life with that niggling feeling that something is missing. The chapters aren't numbered; they're titled with the name of the person they are about. This makes for a slightly slow start as you get to know each character in-depth. I can fully understand why Lisa has taken this approach, though; because, seeing as none of the characters know each other, it's the only real way to get an insight into their world and mindset. If she had jumped from one story to another within chapters, it would have been far too staccato to become involved the way I did.

The book starts in 1979 with Glenys, Lydia's mother. It briefly sets the scene for what will take place in the present day. The first main character we meet is Lydia, in 1998. She's eighteen years old, and aside from her faithful dog, she feels like a misfit. The main story starts with Lydia again; this time in 2009. Having already met the eighteen year-old Lydia, we already know her much better than anyone else in her life in the present day. I think this was the masterstroke, and one which made me feel closer to her than any of the other characters.

Dean is a young man who, like the others, is just drifting aimlessly along in his life. A series of events that befall him lead him to retire even further into the shell that he has built around himself. A chance meeting one drunken night leads him to do something that he would never have normally done, and from that moment things start to change.

Robyn has it all, lovely parents, a great future ahead of her and a good circle of friends. Life couldn't be better really, or could it? Although she doesn't know it yet, there is one thing in life she has always dreamt of having, one thing that she never thought she'd get. The thought of it frightens and excites her all at the same time.

Maggie, at 53 years old, never thought she'd find love again. The man she'd been seeing for a while now was strangely reticent, but she enjoyed his company so much that she never really pushed the boundaries. But now, now it seemed she would never get to feel his skin against hers. Daniel was now in a hospice, and things were looking very bleak. He'd originally only complained of a sore back, but in the end no amount of painkillers would let him lead a normal life. He felt it all slipping away from him. He knew he must tell someone, and that someone was Maggie. And Maggie knew that whatever he asked her to do, that she would do it. So, when Daniel finally opened up to her, she was determined to help; determined to make sure it wasn't too late.

Out of the five main characters, the two that stood out the most to me were Lydia and Dean. I wanted to hug both of them. I took them into my heart and I didn't want to let go. They became very special to me.

The story, as a whole, is fascinating. It opens up a world that many of us will never have experienced. Although the loss, determination, fear and love that we encounter along the way is something we can all relate to.

Lisa's writing is so descriptive. Her talent, to me, stems from the way in which she can richly describe something in a minimal amount of words. It's like every word has to earn its right to be on the page, and she makes each and every one earn that right. It's such a joy to read her work. It's akin to eating the finest dessert; each mouthful a wonderful array of synapse-tingling joy.

I take my hat off to her once again for a marvellous journey. The only downside is that she made those characters so lifelike, I now really miss them. A beautiful tale, and a pleasure to be part of their lives and witness the moments that none of them will ever forget.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2011
This book made me cry. For the last 70 or so pages, I sobbed my little heart out. I literally could not see the words on the pages. I finished the novel and wanted to hug it to my chest. It's safe to say I loved this book a lot.

It follows the stories of Lydia, Dean and Robyn, three people who, unbeknownst to them, share the same father - each of their mothers had become pregnant through artificial insemination and a mysterious French doctor, Daniel, was the donor. The story is told through alternating POVs of the three siblings and also Maggie, Daniel's friend. I have a fondness for novels told through alternating POVs. I like to know about the thoughts of all of the characters, their hopes, wishes and flaws. And I learned those things about the characters here. Both Lydia and Dean struggle to connect to people and Robyn feels guilty about not remembering much about her half sisters, who both died when she was young.

What I particularly like about Jewell's writing is the fact that she doesn't feel the need to bombard you with tons of information all at once. She is quite content to show the characters pasts slowly throughout the story. We, as readers, discover things about Lydia, Dean and Robyn as they do. Also, Jewell doesn't rush the meeting of the siblings, which seemed like the right thing to do to me as, in real life, it's unlikely that three strangers who may share some genetic information would rush into an initial meeting. She dealt with the turmoil and indecision that these characters in a realistic manner.

I don't really feel like I'm doing this novel justice. It's complex and to write about it in great detail would give away the plot. Like I said above, I enjoyed this book a lot and it is definitely one of Lisa Jewell's best. It was emotional and packed full of story. As ever, I look forward to her next one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 November 2012
I've long been a fan of Lisa Jewell's books - ever since I picked up Ralph's Party way back in the day - and so far I've never been disappointed in the way her stories are written. Her ability to draw the reader into the plot from the very beginning is one of her trademarks. The Making of Us is another great read and tackles the sensitive issue of anonymity surrounding sperm donation. The story is warm and witty and yet underlines the ethical and moral dilemma facing those who rely on this method of reproduction. The characters are, as always, infused with such warmth and life that they never outshine each other, nor do they become blended into the wallpaper. I really cared about what happened to the characters and wanted there to be happy ending.

I'm not going to spoil the book by relaying the plot but if you are looking for a book that is strong on storytelling and rich in characterisation, then give this one a try.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2012
This is my favourite Lisa Jewell book. The story is about 3 half siblings who are all fathered by donor sperm. Their individual stories detailing their lives until the all meet are fascinating and each child has had a different kind of life experience. Lydia has everything money can buy, except the family and sense of belonging she craves. Dean is a lost soul, losing his girlfriend as she gives birth and having no prospects to speak of. Then Robyn, who appears to have it all, but is living a fantasy. The story evolves until they meet their donor dad and they find that what is really important. The Making of Us applies to how they were made, and also to the journey each character takes through the story. Finding their sblings really is the making of them. A fantastic story and one for holidays as i couldn't stop reading it.
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