THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN
Ellen Marie Wiseman
Library Binding, 527 pages, Large print
Published September 1st 2017 by Center Point Pub (first published July 25th 2017)
ISBN: 1683245032 (ISBN13: 9781683245032)
also available in paperback, Audible audio, Kindle, ebook,
and in German on Kindle (Die Bittere Gabe, A Sin B072DTNYMD)
Some of the reviews were negative and I wasn't sure I would finish this book. As it turns out, I really like Wiseman's writing. There is the circus animal abuse in the book that was graphic; but in remembering when Lilly's part of the story was to take place (1930's/1940s), this type of abuse is not addressed in the same way it is today. Lilly's character is different, her parents and the general population did look upon her as someone who needs to be caged or treated like a freak in the circus. The author does well in showing Lilly's progressing into accepting herself and her new circus family, and thus starts Lilly's understanding that all people and animals deserve respect.
Alternating chapters with Lilly is Julia. She had the choice to run from the same parents who raised Lilly. Julia's life is not so great on her own, but then she inherits the family property. The author does develop this character decently away from the angry daughter who ran away from home.
A lot happens in the book. It is a tough read with the animal abuse issue in the book, and the neglect and abuse that Lilly as a child, and her circus family endures as freaks. Seeing that people may be different on the outside, but more alike on the inside, is written well here. Understanding that people still hold the older views and how keeping all this private affects our lives is brought to light in the book.
Diversity, coming of age, forgiveness are all part of the plot. The ending could have been written a little tightened up, and maybe a not so perfect, happy ending. I believe, after reading <u>The Life She Was Given</u>, I will read more of Ellen Marie Wiseman.