Francesca Hornak’s debut novel Seven Days of Us examines what can happen to a family when they are forced to live in close quarters for a full week over the Christmas holidays. Now I typically don’t read anything about the holidays until the month of December, but once I heard about this book I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait. Hornak weaves the narratives of five characters together in a way that felt effortless and kept me reading non-stop from beginning to end.
Seven Days of Us introduces us to the Birch family, who for years have slowly been growing apart. Olivia is returning from treating a deadly virus in Liberia as an aid worker, and after finding ways to skip Christmas with her family for years, her return will force them all to spend seven full days together in quarantine. Holidays with the Birches are always held at the slowly crumbling family estate, Weyfield Hall, which has limited reception and very few neighbors. Going into the quarantine we learn that each member of the Birch family has their own secrets, which will all come to a head the more time they spend together.
Olivia is worried about a co-worker she fell in love with during her time in Liberia and also starts to become concerned she has contracted the virus. Phoebe, her younger sister, has recently gotten engaged, but as she tries to plan the wedding she starts questioning elements of her relationship with her fiance. The matriarch of the family and the reason the Birches are at the estate, Emma, has just received shocking news, but is trying to keep it secret until the holidays are over. Emma’s isn’t the only secret within the Birch family though. Andrew, her husband, has been receiving emails from a child he never knew existed. The fifth narrative we get to read is this adult son, Jesse. Raised by adoptive parents in Iowa and currently living in Los Angeles, Jesse just wants to know more about the man he’s recently learned is his birth father.
I loved that Seven Days of Us was told through the lens of a variety of characters and being able to learn how they each reacted to certain situations gave a wonderful depth to the narrative. Not only were there moments of humor, but the emotional and touching moments that happened between each of the Birches were so beautifully done. I did tear up at a certain point, but I’ll let you figure out when that was when you read it for yourself. Each character is so well fleshed out and their growth throughout the story was exceptional. I found myself caring so much for this fictional family and you will feel like a part of the Birch family too by the end of this book.
You can purchase Seven Days of Us today and no matter what time of year this is a wonderfully touching read.
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