Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

If you're looking for a well written and captivating summer read, look no further. What She Left Behind is an incredible novel of parallel stories of two women living in the 1930s and 1990s. Izzy and Clara, although they live in different times, are similarly complicated, strong women with many of the same struggles. Essentially, this is a book about love between parents and children, but told with so much suspense and heartbreak -- I found it remarkably powerful.

Many years ago, Izzy Stone's mother fatally shot her father while he slept. Feeling betrayed by her mother's apparent insanity, she has refused to visit her mother in prison. She is living with a foster family when she comes across a stack of letters and journals that belonged to Clara Cartwright when she was 18 years old in 1929. Clara's story provides a window into Izzy's own life, and forces her to review much of what she has dismissed.

The writing is deeply emotional and psychologically driven,

"But how many were victims of of circumstance, women left penniless by husbands who abandoned them or died, women who lost children and needed help coping with unbearable grief, women banished by parents who disapproved of their decisions? How many were at Willard because of a single angry outburst, or because they had grown old and been abandoned by their children, or had lost their parents at a young age and had grown up in an orphanage? How many were sane when they got here, but after months of abuse or overtreatment with ice baths and sedatives, would never be rational again?”

This provocative and thoughtful book will draw you in and surprise you with a completely unpredictable ending. I'd recommend it highly!

Happy reading!!

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