What I’m Reading: What She Left Behind

I just finished listening to the audio book What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman.  After I read another book by same author The Plum Tree and had loved that, I put myself on the wait list for any other books by the author.  Well finally one became available.


So was it worth the wait??Yes.  It was.  The story toggles between present day and the 30’s.  The story brings to light much of the abuse and mistreatment that happened in asylums during this time period.  Being two of my girls have gone through nursing school and both had to do a mental health rotation and learn about the history of mental health treatment, I was aware of many of the things the book discusses.  It still was very hard to believe that such atrocities could happen.

Both of the stories, the present day and past day, mirror each other to an extent.  Each has a girl scared of “catching” the same mental illness their mother’s suffered from.  Both stories are very interesting.

Here’s what Amazon had to say, “In this stunning new novel, the acclaimed author of The Plum Tree merges the past and present into a haunting story about the nature of love and loyalty–and the lengths we will go to protect those who need us most.

Ten years ago, Izzy Stone’s mother fatally shot her father while he slept. Devastated by her mother’s apparent insanity, Izzy, now seventeen, refuses to visit her in prison. But her new foster parents, employees at the local museum, have enlisted Izzy’s help in cataloging items at a long-shuttered state asylum. There, amid piles of abandoned belongings, Izzy discovers a stack of unopened letters, a decades-old journal, and a window into her own past. 

Clara Cartwright, eighteen years old in 1929, is caught between her overbearing parents and her love for an Italian immigrant. Furious when she rejects an arranged marriage, Clara’s father sends her to a genteel home for nervous invalids. But when his fortune is lost in the stock market crash, he can no longer afford her care–and Clara is committed to the public asylum. 

Even as Izzy deals with the challenges of yet another new beginning, Clara’s story keeps drawing her into the past. If Clara was never really mentally ill, could something else explain her own mother’s violent act? Piecing together Clara’s fate compels Izzy to re-examine her own choices–with shocking and unexpected results. “

I hate to say I “enjoyed” the book as it’s never “fun” to read about abuse but I did like the book.  Amazon readers give the book 4.3 stars.  I’ll have to agree.  It was definitely worth my time.  I have another book by the author on my wait list, Coal River.  I’m looking forward to that one becoming available.  So far, this author hasn’t lead me astray.

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