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Bending the Spine

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: Without Tess by Marcella Pixley


Tess and Lizzie are sisters, sisters as close as can be, who share a secret world filled with selkies, flying horses, and a girl who can transform into a wolf  in the middle of the night. But when Lizzie is ready to grow up, Tess clings to their fantasies. As Tess sinks deeper and deeper into her delusions, she decides that she can’t live in the real world any longer and leaves Lizzie and her family forever. Now, years later, Lizzie is in high school and struggling to understand what happened to her sister. With the help of a school psychologist and Tess’s battered journal, Lizzie searches for a way to finally let Tess go.

ebook, 288 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN:1429969822 (ISBN13: 9781429969826)

I approached this book all wrong.  I made fast assumptions about it, and misjudged it.  I almost didn’t finish it because of my assumptions, but continued reading and finished it.

You must realize before starting this book how difficult it will be to read.  I had no idea how sad and monstrous reading this would be.  Mental illness is no joke.  Just prepare yourself: Pixley is real.  There’s a no-holds-barred approach to telling Lizzie’s story.  You’ve been warned.

I felt sorry for Lizzie.  Both as the compliant preteen flashback Lizzie and the moody depressed teenage Lizzie, her character makes you feel and understand to some extent what mental illness can do to someone.  The feelings of being ashamed, hating, loving all became vivid.  Her love for her sister is fathomless, knows no bounds.  The turning point, when she’s able to let go, I didn’t cry, but it’s just awesome.

Pixley did an amazing job writing this story.  The ending was beautiful.  The growth in the characters was poignant.  Without Tess left me feeling breathless and lightheaded.


4 Tress: Without Tess your life is missing something.

Get to reading,

*This book was provided to me by the publishers through netGalley*

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