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The Unwelcomed Child

My mother had looked into the face of evil so many times she knew what it was. It was me. I was born without a soul. . . .

Elle Edwards grew up believing that because of her mother’s sinful ways she was born without a soul; that’s why she was abandoned and left in the care of Grandmother Myra and Grandfather Prescott, who try to ensure her evil will not infect them—by raising her in a virtual prison. Because her days are occupied with homeschooling, strict religious studies, and vigorous housekeeping in their upstate New York home, Elle knows practically nothing of the outside world, even as she emerges as a young woman with impressive artistic talent. But when she makes a secret, forbidden connection to vacationers at the nearby lake—a handsome boy and his precocious twin sister—Elle’s world will shatter. Will discovering the truths about her past send her future plummeting to hell?

My Review

I read this 400 page book in one night. ONE NIGHT.

I confess…I turned those pages so fiendishly because I was waiting for the crazy to happen. Secret, forbidden connection? Oh, yes please. To that end, the book builds wonderful tension. This poor girl who knows nothing of the world learns of it–ironically enough–from a couple of wealthy kids whose idea of the real world almost certainly differs from what most of us know, but there’s a certain beauty in that. It’s one extreme to another…from Elle’s windowless room to kids who know few boundaries and tend to ignore the rest. Which is not to say they’re wild–not by any means–but there’s a certain recklessness that opens Elle’s eyes in a way that couldn’t happen with just any kid next door.

Believe it or not, Elle’s grandparents are sympathetic characters. Her grandfather in particular pushes for her relative freedom, but it’s her grandmother with the biggest fight. After a terrible falling out with their daughter, this woman is left to raise her grandchild–a child she believes to be evil…a child she could have given up but would not–who is a constant reminder of the daughter she considers lost. What this book does so well is portray the grandmother’s struggle to overcome this. She’s wrong–so wrong–but as the pieces fall into place you see she’s not the hardened creature she fronts to the world. She’s broken, and it’s that shell that keeps the pieces from falling every which way.

The path through this story is bittersweet. As the remaining pages dwindled, I worried for what wouldn’t happen…and what would. But this isn’t the kind of book that ends on a breathless moment. It ends quietly, serenely. And for the unwelcomed child, that’s just as it should be.

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review**