This is such a gripping and compelling read! I stayed up into the wee hours completely absorbed and unable to put it down. It is the story of Izzy in 1995 and the story of Clara beginning in 1928. Clara's story is tragic and heartbreaking while Izzy's story has it's own tragedies. Still, there is strength and hope in these characters and their stories merge in a beautiful way before the book is done.
This Is about 18 year old Clara in 1929 and 17 year old Izzy in present day, told in alternating chapters. It is totally gripping and mind boggling and I found it very hard to put down. It was difficult to read about how parents can commit a child to an insane asylum for falling in love with someone they didn't approve of, and then forgetting about her while she lived her life in a hellhole. They didn't know she was pregnant, gave birth there and had her baby stolen away. Thus is the story about poor Clara, I could barely read about the horrors she endured.
Then there is Izzy, whose insane mother shot her father and she refuses to visit her in prison. she is put in the foster system and finally lives with a family who loves her. Her foster mother works for a museum and is collecting items from trunks left by patients in the now closed State Asylum. When they come across Clara's, her story unravels with a journal found by Izzy and she is obsessed with it. She vows to find Clara's daughter and find out what happened to her mother.
There is a lot more to Izzy's story, but I don't usually write a synopsis of a book in my reviews. I guess I was too engrossed with Clara. I was totally absorbed with this book and whole heartedly recommend it.
I am one of those people who has to finish the books she starts. I made an exception for this book. I couldn't get past the poor writing. Sorry!
I literally read this book in one night - it was that good. A dark and real look at insane asylums in the early 1900s and the nightmare that happens to a sane woman there commingled with a present-day foster child fearing mental illness. Emotionally wrenching and page turning. Great author
Isabelle is a young woman in today's era. She had been living with her grandmother after her mother was put into prison after killing her husband, Izzy's father. Izzy's grandmother has passed away and Izzy is put into a foster home.
Izzy's foster mother is involved in a project to find some history about an insane asylum in the town that has closed. They are going to go through the luggage of some of the patient's and try to learn more about those people.
Izzy comes upon a suitcase that is full of beautiful and moneyed items and comes across a journal written by a young woman who was incarcerated in the 1930's.
Clara is the woman of the 1930's whose diary Izzy has discovered. Clara was from wealthy parents and her parents had her incarcerated after she refused to marry the man they wished her to marry. She was in love with someone else and her parents thought that by sending her to the insane asylum, they would teach her a lesson.
The book alternates between the stories of the two women. There is much heartache in both young ladies's lives. Both live through some strong downfalls.
The premise of the book was really good. I just felt that there was so much distress that it was a little hard to keep reading. Had to read until the end to find out it anything good became for either lady.
One of the most moving books I have ever read! The author certainly did her research well. She gives us a painful but true look at practices in mental hospitals in the past and uses real places and events along with believable characters to touch our hearts in a story that I will be thinking about long after I have finished reading it! Five stars!
The 'Izzy' portions of this book read like a YA novel, the 'Clara' portions like a romance novel. I was disappointed - but I finished it just to say I did.
This was a haunting story. Makes me sad to think people actually had to live a life like Clara.
I really liked this book. It takes place in modern times with Izzy and in the 1920s with Clara. Clara's part is non stop abuse at the hands of her parents then the institution she is left to stay in. The end is put together a little too quickly, but it is definitely worth reading.
I read What She Left Behind with a reading buddy in my online book club, The Reading Cove. And quite honestly, reading this story was akin to chewing glass--pure torture!
Who wants to read about a character being subjected to an endless hardship, suffering gross injustice nonstop right up until the end?? There was one point where I was just flat out ready to throw the book against the wall it was so frustrating! I finished only because it was a buddy read. Clara Cartwright's story is nothing but an emotional razor blade for the reader with no satisfying redemption in the end at all.
The modern-day storyline with Izzy Stone was pure juvenile YA boredom and didn't provide a competent enough thread to make up for Clara's poorly rendered tragedy.
While the premise is initially compelling, well researched and keeps you turning the pages, the execution simply slaps the reader in the face. This book could've been SO much more interesting if the author didn't have such a doom, doom, doom agenda. The pacing was also sophomoric--it moves like a drunken snail when huge flashbacks and backstory dumps are crammed right into the middle of scenes in progress! Urgh. That abounds in the writing style, making it BEG to be skimmed so the narrative can move at a more natural pace.
So overall, I could never recommend this book. It's not a very good reading experience. And going forward, I'd be super hesitant to touch another novel by this author. C-