Published: December 31, 2012
Ten years ago, Izzy Stone’s mother fatally shot her father while he slept. Devastated by her mother’s apparent insanity, Izzy, now seventeen, refuses to visit her in prison. But her new foster parents, employees at a local museum, have enlisted Izzy’s help in cataloging items at a long-shuttered state asylum. There, amid piles of abandoned belongings, Izzy discovers a stack of unopened letters, a decades old journal, and a window into her own past.
Clara Cartwright, eighteen years old in 1929, is caught between her overbearing parents and her love for an Italian immigrant. Furious when she rejects an arranged marriage, Clara’s father sends her to a genteel home for nervous invalids. But when his fortune is lost in the stock market crash, he can no longer afford her care—and Clara is committed to the public asylum.
Even as Izzy deals with the challenges of yet another new beginning, Clara’s story keeps drawing her into the past. If Clara was never really mentally ill, could something else explain her own mother’s violent act? Piecing together Clara’s fate compels Izzy to re-examine her own choices—with shocking and unexpected results.
This story reminded me of the movie THE SNAKE PIT, based on Mary Jane Ward’s 1946 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, it tells the story of a woman who finds herself in an insane asylum and cannot remember how she got there.This story was riveting, chilling, and in parts very disturbing. It’s hard to believe that something like this could happen and probably did. Not only was she held against her will, but when her boyfriend found her and tried to rescue her, he was admitted as a crazy person by the administrator, and is later killed. She was pregnant at the time she was first committed and had the baby and it was taken away from her after a few weeks.
Clara, at first was sent to a “nice” home for “nervous invalids” but after the crash of 1929 her father couldn’t afford the payments so she was transferred to a pubic asylum. The things she suffered there were hard to listen to and brought tears of anger and sadness to my eyes.. Not only was she held against her will, but when her boyfriend found her and tried to rescue her, he was admitted as a crazy person by the administrator, and is later killed. She was pregnant at the time she was first committed and had the baby and it was taken away from her after a few weeks. She was put in at the age of 19 and was imprisoned (because that’s what it was) for 60 years.
Only because of Izzy’s involvement in a museum project did Clara’s fate come to light and an ending that I won’t share here because you need to read this book for yourself. I will tell you that there is a HEA.
Five stars *****