The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman
Betrayal…the very word inspires anger and sadness. The betrayal of a mother to a daughter seems simply unimaginable. But, that my friends, is how this story begins. Lilly Blackwood is horribly betrayed by her mother in an act that most mothers can’t fathom. The story begins in 1931 and Lilly is sold to the circus by her own mother. As I finished the sentence that sealed Lilly’s fate, I drew in a sharp breath and set the book down. I had to walk away and then I had to read it again. That moment was so visceral, so heart wrenching. I couldn’t imagine a mother who would walk away with a handful of cash and leave her daughter to an unknown fate.
The Life She Was Given tells the story of Lilly’s life, but it also tells the story of Julia Blackwood. A young woman who grew up on a horse farm with strict rules and an unforgiving mother. Julia inherits the horse farm after her parents passing. As she tries to forge a new life for herself in a childhood home full of painful memories she discovers a hidden room and circus photos.
The story is told from Lilly and Julia’s perspectives throughout the book. As I was transported to circus life in the early 1930’s, I found myself deeply caring for Lilly. Her character is written with so much strength and vulnerability at the same time. I was immediately drawn to her. I found myself cheering her on in one moment and wanting to jump in and rescue her the next. Julia is scared and unsure of herself. I wanted to be her champion and teach her how to harness her inner strength.
Inner strength…that, of course, is the lesson for all of us. How will we find the courage to lean into our inner strength and conquer our biggest fears? Fears come to us both internally and externally. Both Lilly and Julia find ways to conquer their biggest fears and in that they are victorious. But, be warned, this book is beautifully sad.
I hope you’ll take the time to read this wonderful story. Most of all, I hope, that through reading this story you’ll find the inner strength to conquer your biggest fears. I believe in you!