What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What She Left Behind is a story that centers around two young woman who face enormous difficulties. One is 17-year-old Izzy and the other is 17-year-old Clara who lived in the same community back in 1929. Izzy discovers Clara's diary while helping her foster mother go through some patient personal belongings from an old closed down mental asylum. Izzy is fascinated by Clara's story, and feels somehow connected to the tragic young woman.
While I found the story interesting to read, there were so many tragedies and horrible people through out the story that as a reader it became overwhelming. As Izzy faces the school bully, a vicious girl named Shannon, Clara argues with her father and is sent to a mental hospital. The cruelty that they both face is overwhelming, and things continue to go from bad to worse for the two. There were some good moments, but many of the characters felt one-dimensional. We learn very little about Clara’s father and why he wanted his daughter locked away. The author uses incest in a trite and stereotypical way, making the whole story less believable. I was frustrated with the ending. While the author tried to offer a somewhat happy resolution, it fell flat and the reader can't help but feel disappointed at the tragic waste of lives that occurred.
Despite its many flaws, I did like the premise of this book and enjoyed reading it. While it was not one of the best I’ve read, I would recommend this book.
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