Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Friday, January 31, 2014

Review: What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Izzy Stone and Clara Cartwright are teenagers growing up seventy years apart. The story takes their lives and intertwines them. Izzy’s mother killed her father and has been committed to a mental hospital. She lives with her foster parents. Peg, her foster mother, is investigating the abandoned Willard State Asylum. Izzy helps her catalog the items found. One is Clara’s steamer trunk. Clara is committed to Willard by her parents after she refuses to marry their appointed choice. She loves an Italian immigrant and is pregnant with his child. In 1929, this is considered a crime and her father is allowed to send her away indefinitely. Izzy deals with being the new kid and makes few friends. Clara begs anyone who will listen to let her go. She isn’t crazy, just defiant. Both suffer loss and heart break, but push through to vindication. Many topics are touched on in this book: suicide, incest, mentally illness, physical abuse, sexism, and xenophobia. Both women have to face these issues alone and come to terms with them.

I liked Izzy. She has been forced into the state system since grandmother’s death. She believes she knows the facts of her parents’ case, but is missing a vital piece. Only later does she gain access to letters her mother has sent her over the years, explaining her actions. Izzy is the constant new kid, navigating school and relationships. She’s right to be wary and not eager to trust. All has been stripped from her, but hope one day life will be better. She’s worthy of love and deserving of the better life offered to her.

I liked Clara. She is the ultimate survivor. From the beginning, the odds have been stacked against her. Her parents suffocate her by monitoring her every move. She rebels and is punished tenfold. Locked away for the rest of her life for refusing to marry, she finds a way to live. The system in place ruling her is terrifying. She had no means to escape and no one to help. The events in her life are shocking and heart wrenching.

Both women are wiser than their years. They choose to survive their ordeals and triumph over those who would block their paths. I found myself rooting for both of them. Their happy endings are far from reach, but they work toward them every day.

Excellent read and highly recommended.

Purchase: | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |


Post a Comment