Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Looking Glass Lies" by Varina Denman

Last year, I read Varina Denman's Mended Hearts series. I really enjoyed the three books, which revolved around a church in a small Texas town. Looking Glass Lies is also set in a small Texas town, but where the Mended Hearts series mainly dealt with hurts inflicted and/or perpetuated by the church, Looking Glass Lies deals with self-image.

A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.

For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.

But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.

The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.

Looking Glass Lies is one of the most powerful novels I've recently read. It's about the lies we see when we look in the mirror. The lies we feel must be true every time a relationship ends, we feel left out, or we compare ourselves to women who are prettier, skinnier, or more successful in love.

To say that I've agonized over what to say in this review would be an understatement. I think it's because I so wanted to say the right thing to convey just how important this book is. Though it's fiction, it contains such truth. It's also a powerful reminder that we never know what someone else is struggling with. That woman who intimidates you with her beauty and haughty attitude? She could be swimming in debt or grief or low self esteem. We just don't know, which is something clearly shown in Looking Glass Lies.

Looking Glass Lies is about Cecily, a woman whose husband was emotionally abusive (going so far as to try to mold her to fit into his pornography-fueled fantasies), and then he finally divorced her when she couldn't live up to his expectations. Her self-esteem in shreds, she moves back to her Texas hometown where she fights to regain her self-worth while making some pretty amazing friendships and perhaps even finding love.

The novel is told mainly from Cecily's perspective, though there are short portions interspersed throughout from the perspective of an unknown man. These sections show just how easily and sneakily pornography can get its hooks into someone and how this "private" sin can ruin lives.

Don't go into this book expecting a light romance: it deals with serious topics like pornography, infidelity, body-shaming, bullying, self-harm, and suicide. But it is an incredibly engaging novel that is 100% worth the read. 5 stars.

Note: While I think "trigger warnings" are often overrated, in this case, it's probably warranted. One of the characters is a cutter, and the passages regarding cutting go into some detail. It's not overly graphic, but I wonder if it might be a trigger for someone struggling with cutting.

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of Denman's Jaded (4-1/2 stars) and Jilted (4 stars).

Varina Denman is author of the Mended Hearts series and a native Texan. She spent her high school years in a rural town and now writes stories about the struggles women face in similar small town settings. She and her husband live near Fort Worth, where they enjoy spending time with their five mostly grown children.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much, Becky. I'm very honored and humbled by this review. :)


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