Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review- What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Title: What She Left Behind
Author: Ellen Marie Wiseman
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Publication date: December 31st 2013
Edition/ Language: Paperback, English
Pages: 336
Genres: Historical-fiction, mental illness, contemporary-fiction

A non spoiler review

Goodreads: This stunning new novel[...]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.[...] her new foster parents, employees at a 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. [...]Clara is committed to the public asylum.
Illuminating and provocative, WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND is a masterful novel about the yearning to belong—and the mysteries that can belie even the most ordinary life.

What She Left Behind is told from Clara and Izzy's (Isabelle) perspective, in third person. Clara's story is set around 1932 in Willard State Asylum, while Izzy's story is set in 1995.

This book covers a few absolute insignificant reasons why (especially women) people were put into asylums around 1932. It also has a lot to do with how many things people do to save the ones day love. The Title "What She Left Behind" truly emerges throughout the story in so many different ways, such as loss or simply the decision not to look back.

The story is depressing but not in a way that shuts the reader out, but in a way that it makes the reader feel what the characters are feeling and understand what they are going through. I must say, the situations that the characters went through in the story, are not easy at all... They are in fact very disturbing, hopeless and heartbreaking situations.

I really like how as a reader I was able to see the situations that are brought up in this book from different perspectives. With that I mean opinions and actions of teens & elders/ Patients, doctors & nurses/ Significant others/ Parents & foster parents in 1932 & 1995... It's interesting to see how things were (how people acted/ decisions that were made/ how people -almost blindly- followed rules) and how things have changed.

I discovered that books/ stories about life, emotions and mental illness truly touch my heart. That's why this book is truly one of my favorites. It even has a few thrilling moments! I love how Ellen Marie Wiseman chose two different time periods and made them connect with each other. I think this story is as I said before cruel but yet heartwarming at times. I felt like I understand the characters even when I haven't been through their situations. I give this book definitely 5 out of 5 stars!


  1. This sounds really interesting and having the different characters sharing their views and opinions makes it sound ever more so, I love it when an author does that in their books too. Lovely review Jade and thank you for the birthday wishes! - Tasha

  2. This is a novel I have never heard of before, but it sounds pretty cool and like it could have a lot to do with the reasons behind asylums. I have read quite a few books about those and why people are placed in them and it saddens me. I like the sound of the parallels between the two characters and their perspectives as well.