Looking Glass Lies

Looking Glass LiesLooking Glass Lies by Varina Denman
Genres: Contemporary, Women's Fiction
Published by Waterfall Press on May 2, 2017
Pages: 318

 

Publisher’s Summary:

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 a brave, much-needed story. Cecily is broken woman and carries major baggage, still reeling from an emotionally abusive marriage. At its core, this story is about a woman who looked for affirmation and worth in another person, in this case a man, only to be let down terribly. As a woman who also struggles with self-worth, self-love and occasional strong emotions, I empathized with Cecily and discovered parts of my own self in her character.

As a woman who also struggles with self-worth, self-love and occasional strong emotions, I empathized with Cecily and discovered parts of my own self in her character.

The story is certainly character-driven, but the characters themselves are strong and make a huge impact. I read this in nearly a day because I found myself connecting on a heart-level to Cecily and her pain in such a way that it felt hard to take a break from the story. I truly applaud Varina Denman for tackling such a sensitive topic with compassion but also with an unflinching honesty. I will caution that this story may not be for every reader. This touches on some heavy emotions and destructive they can be if handled the wrong way. I admit there was a scene or two that were hard to read through, but it all felt key to Cecily’s character development.

I truly applaud Varina Denman for tackling such a sensitive topic with compassion but also with an unflinching honesty.

Despite touching on heavier topics and mature themes, it is not without hopeful moments. Many of those come from Shanty Espinoza, one of my most favorite characters ever, hands down. Her heart for other women and her desire to promote self-esteem made me so grateful for the Shanty’s that I know. There are times that I’m Cecily and times that I’m Shanty; sometimes my emotions are upbeat and other days they bring me down. But one thing Looking Glass Lies shows is that it’s okay to have huge, uncontainable feelings in response to suffering – how you choose to let them manifest themselves is what is most important. Suffering can sow seeds of despair and lies about others and yourself, but it can also sow seeds of hope. Cecily didn’t realize that she could choose to say no to the lies that convinced her that she was unworthy of self-love and the love of others;

In addition to the topics addressed in the novel, I also felt the setting to be strong. Canyon, Texas came to life for me and truly felt like a real place. I loved the outdoor scenes and really got a feel for Palo Duro Canyon. In addition to Shanty, the secondary characters are endearing; I especially loved the relationship between Cecily and her dad, with all its bumps and sweet moments, as well as college student Nina’s search for self-worth. While there is a slight romantic thread, this is a journey of one heart, not two, thought a certain old classmate of Cecily’s definitely makes that element a beautiful one.

I am like Cecily; I am like Shanty. And most of all, I am unapologetically myself, and I choose to celebrate that.

Just as Cecily has experienced change by the story’s end, I am changed after reading this story. I am like Cecily; I am like Shanty. And most of all, I am unapologetically myself, and I choose to celebrate that. And anyone that might read this review, no matter what baggage you may be carrying today, I hope you will celebrate your worthy, amazing self – in Cecliy’s words, “your life is worth living, and you are the only one who can live it.”

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