Friday, October 21, 2011

Review: Without Tess

Title: Without Tess
Author: Marcella Pixley
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 5/5

From Goodreads: 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.

My Thoughts: Fantastic. Heartbreaking. Magical. Those are just a few words to describe Without Tess. The story started out a little slow for me, but the writing began to draw me in. Tess was one of those enchanting people who others found themselves drawn to. I could feel this happening to me as I read.

Tess talked a lot about magic, and it seemed to fit her personality. She was a magical person. At first, she seemed like a child with a powerful, creative imagination. This can be refreshing, especially considering how most children nowadays are more interested in video games and the internet and rarely use their imagination. Under the surface, though, was a dangerous mental illness. This was evident in how Tess never broke from her imaginary world. She truly believed in the magical world she had created.

Without Tess was beautifully written. I loved how the poetry intertwined with the story. The poems themselves were beautiful and lyrical. The story was also an interesting spin on mental illness in children. There was very little talk of therapy, medication, or treatment. The story wasn't focused on getting Tess better. It was focused on who Tess was, which I think was what Lizzie wanted to remember most.

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