Like a Lily Among the Thorns
by Karen S. Bell
KSB Press

"This is where my father lived when my mother was losing her mind and wasting away."

In this touching and gripping novel, Bell explores the theme of a sense of belonging through the lenses of her protagonist, Gabrielle Bernstein. Gabrielle is an optimistic young woman, and she never takes life for granted. She enjoys working as a librarian, and she loves her community. One day, she receives a notice to evict her apartment because her building is being demolished for luxury condos. She only has a few days to find a new living situation. Soon after, she receives disappointing news: her estranged father has passed away and left her an inheritance. Throughout this journey, Gabrielle will struggle internally about whether to accept or decline this sudden inheritance from the man who caused her so much pain.

From the start, Bell establishes a sharp contrast between Gabrielle's inner and outer self. For example, Gabrielle has a generally positive outlook on life internally, and she never lets negative thoughts poison her mind. However, the author shows that when people come across Gabrielle, they see an external image of someone who seems angry, frustrated, and unhappy. In essence, Gabrielle is happy on the inside, but it does not reflect on her face. Later, the author explains this dichotomy when she finally confides in her friend about her childhood. In this revealing scene, Gabrielle's face suddenly begins to change because she finally unburdens herself of how she truly feels about her upbringing. Indeed, the more Gabrielle starts to let go of her painful past, the more her face comes across as pleasing. Bell expertly describes the main character's emotions with profound honesty, and readers will undoubtedly be pleased with the results.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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