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The Life She Was Given

The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman is a duel narrative fictional novel about family secrets that span decades.

In 1931, Lilly Blackwood spots a circus through the barred glass of her attic dormer window and her life is forever changed. All her life Lilly has lived in the attic of her parents house. She is locked up and no one knows of her existence except for her devoutly religious and abusive mother and her distant father. Lilly is different and is constantly reminded that the world would fear her if they saw her.

The night after the circus arrives, Lilly’s mother drags her from the attic and to the circus where she is sold to Merrick, the owner of the circus freak show. Lilly is to be their new exhibit. A child and alone in the world, Lilly must learn to obey or face the consequences. Can she find a home in this world of spectacle and farce?

More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old runaway, Julia Blackwood learns that her parents have died and left her Blackwood Manor. Returning to a home of strict rules and locked doors, Julia begins to uncover secrets about her past that with shake her to her core.

What does Lilly and Julia have in common? How are they connected? And what secrets will come to light when the dust is cleared?

I actually really enjoyed this book. I picked it up on a whim to read in the hospital and it kept my interest the whole time. I’ve never read anything by Ellen Marie Wiseman before but I really enjoyed her writing style and the past/present narrative really worked for me.

There is something about a circus, carnival, travelling show that just captures my interest and I found myself fully invested in Lilly’s story. I wanted to see how this little girl adapts to a cast of characters and learns to live her life year after year in a travelling circus.

Although, I was more invested in Lilly’s story, I also enjoyed Julia’s search for truth. I do with Julia’s chapters were fleshed out a little bit more and the characters more developed but other than uncovering her parent’s secrets, Julia wasn’t an overly complex character, unlike Lilly.

This is a story about being different and persevering; finding ones true self and moving on. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!


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