The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman was an incredible read. I may have requested 2 more books by Wiseman from the library because I love her writing so much. The characters in this story were SO well written. You felt empathy, anger, hatred, love, frustration and compassion for every character, sometimes all at once.
We follow two main characters in two different time periods. In the thirties, we follow Lilly who was born Albino and locked away in the attic. Lilly has never been outside… until the day her mother sells her to the circus. Lilly’s life in the circus is not easy, and at times she’s not convinced it’s any better than being locked in the attic, but when she finds friends and even love she realizes this may just be the best terrible thing that’s happened to her.
In the 50’s we follow Julia. Julia moves home when her mother dies, to the same home that Lilly was locked in as a child. Julia struggles to find peace with the house and with her parents as she discovers mystery upon mystery of her family’s past.
How are Julia and Lilly connected? I was sure I knew. But with every twist and turn I second guessed myself a little and the ending was a lovely surprise.
I couldn’t put the book down after the first 100 pages. It was heart wrenching and beautiful. The ending was not the happily ever after that I always hope so, but it was extremely fitting to the story. I can’t wait to read more by this author.