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When My Heart Was Wicked Kindle Edition
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel. See more
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Top customer reviews
My only criticism us that I felt the lack of magic throughout the book. It is distributed in tiny bits until the end of the book. I would gave liked more as I think the author was skilled enough to go there. I do think this would be a terrific book for any child facing parental loss of a blended family situation. It has a warmth and realism I found very affecting. This book will stay with me a very long time.
Story: Lacy has lived happily with her father and stepmother; the couple have taken care of her since her unstable mother suddenly abandoned her. But when her father dies of cancer, her mother returns and wants Lacy back. Lacy has no choice but to abandon the happy home she had made in Chico and move back to Sacramento. That life with her mother was one she had finally let go with the help of her father: a dark place where the only way to alleviate the pain was to cut or to steal. Soon enough, she finds herself returning to the old ways and fearing she will lose the light part of herself for good.
The book does have a bit of a supernatural element in the form of both mother and daughter having some witch-like talents. But that isn't the crux of the story so much as the reason why Lacy is so conflicted. If she has some power then there is the chance she has done bad things to others, things her mother taught her. And these things haunt her - make her feel as unworthy as her mother clearly feels she must be.
For really, this is a mother-daughter story. Of a daughter who defended the woman who callously tormented her child as a consequence of selfishness, instability, and inability to care for another individual. Lacy always blindly supported her mother, as a child does, until her father and hippy stepmother gave her stability and strength to grow beyond her mother's influence. To see that she can be happy and stop the pain.
As Lacy ends up on the wrong side of popularity in her new high school, and has to deal with her mother all over again, she spirals into despair and grapples with the return of the 'old Lacy'. Will she use her herbs to heal or curse, regressing to stealing and cutting herself, and has her mother greedily stolen her heart in order to control her? Worse, is her mother so anxious to turn Lacy into herself - perhaps to justify her own life's terrible decisions?
Despite the heavy tones, author Sterling keeps Lacy's story grounded but not crushingly depressing. Lacy has to navigate several situations in order to understand herself better - and to take the good with the bad. The difference between the Lacy of the past and the Lacy of the present is that her father and stepmother have shown her an alternative life. She is now old enough to finally have perspective: to take her own life into control and not be influenced or hurt by her mother's selfishness. To not become her mother or let her mother control her. In this way, the supernatural elements of the story are meant allegorically - the idea that her mother has her heart and that's why Lacy is becoming dark again.
When My Heart Was Wicked is a quick read and I enjoyed it very much. It is the type of YA book that you enjoy reading but also makes you recognize how important good writing is to a story. Highly recommended. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
Lucy wasn't always the good girl. She didn't always wear cute clothes and smile at strangers on the street. When Lucy is forced to move downstate to Chico with her mother, who was recently released from prison, everything about her life changes. Lucy must face the darkness in her mother, and within herself.
With strong, concise writing and well-developed characters, WICKED is a pleasure to read. The prose is delightful, twisting and winding around the plot to move the story forward in the most interesting and fantastical ways. I loved the descriptions of nature, the intricate spell-castings and clever balance between reality and fantasy that Lucy is constantly struggling to maintain. Is Lucy's mother crazy for believing in the magic, or is it all real? I think it's clear that there is magic in Lucy's world, but another reader could make an entirely different interpretation, and I might believe them.
I wanted nothing more from this story. Everything is contained in less than 200 pages, and that is a result of Stirling's skilled writing. Every word matters, every sentence was carefully constructed, and every adjective could have several meanings. The complex yet concise writing lends a depth to the story that you wouldn't expect from such a small book.
Highly recommended for those looking for a complex and haunting story of self-discovery and coping with change. WHEN MY HEART WAS WICKED is a strong, nuanced debut.
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