Title: Without Tess
Author: Marcella Pixley
Release Date: October 11th, 2011
Number of Pages: 288
Publisher: Margaret Ferguson Books
Tess and Lizzie are sisters, sisters as close as can be, who share a secret world filled with selkies, flying horses, and a girl who can transform into a wolf in the middle of the night. But when Lizzie is ready to grow up, Tess clings to their fantasies. As Tess sinks deeper and deeper into her delusions, she decides that she can’t live in the real world any longer and leaves Lizzie and her family forever. Now, years later, Lizzie is in high school and struggling to understand what happened to her sister. With the help of a school psychologist and Tess’s battered journal, Lizzie searches for a way to finally let Tess go.
This isn’t an easy book to read, in my opinion; not because of the writing, which is more than great, but mostly because this book isn’t about an easy subject. I would say that it has the same kind of theme than Imaginary Girls. Still, I preferred Without Tess.
The story revolves around Lizzie, who hasn’t yet moved on after her sister died a couple of years before. She can’t live her life, without the heavy shadow of her sister lying on top of her. Through the book, we see memories of Tess and her, showing us more about the lost sister. I think what really made it hard for me to read is the age of the character. Lizzie was still a child when she had to go through all of this. Her sister wasn’t that much older, yet she ended up taking her life through her delusions. It is hard to image a child going through all of that.
Even though Lizzie still doesn’t seem to be ready to move on, even after all these years, I did like her as a character. She was true to her character, and I understood her pain. She felt guilty, and she’s blaming herself. After all, what if she hadn’t convinced herself to believe her sister’s world. All Lizzie wanted was to be part of Tess’ magical world, a world she tried to believe in. Yet, it is in the same that ended up making Tess take her life.
This is a story about letting go of the past, a past that is hard to forget.