Customer Reviews for

Without Tess

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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  • Posted October 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An Emotional Read

    Without Tess was a blend of many things: a daring description of mental illness, a beautiful portrayal of the bonds of sisterhood, a book that made me smile and cry. It was one of those novels that I simply couldn't put down and reading page after page after page I found myself drowning in the emotions of the main character--possibly because I understand the sisters' relationship, possibly simply because this book is written in compelling prose.

    Lizzie, our main character, has been trying to cope with her sister's untimely death for five years when the story opens. Told in mix of flashbacks, poetry, and counseling sessions, the story of Tess and Lizzie's intense relationship comes to life before your eyes. Despite the fact that Tess is already dead when the book starts, we get to know her through Lizzie's recollections. It's clear from the beginning that Tess' playful imaginings are more than just make believe to her. Lizzie goes along with everything her sister says from the beginning because she loves her sister more than anything in the world. But when Tess' world of make believe becomes all too real for Lizzie, she has to make the choice to separate herself from her sister's world and that decision haunts her for a long time--well after her sister's death.

    Lizzie is a character that really broke my heart. It was tough to watch her hide herself away from the world because as the outside observer you could tell that she really just needed to talk about what happened--and not to a shrink or her parents. There is such an intense difference between the girl of the flashbacks and present-day Lizzie.

    Tess, despite being dead from the beginning, is a character that you both grow to love and hate through Lizzie's flashbacks. She's rather intense, to say the least, and you watch her wrap Lizzie into her delusions throughout the novel. Tess was a character who made me feel both empathy and anger for her all at the same time. You are literally watching her waste away because of her delusional beliefs, which is heart-breaking, but at the same time, you watch her inflict intense emotional and sometimes physical pain on those around her, especially Lizzie.

    Niccolo was an interesting minor character. I liked how he pursued Lizzie because he didn't push TOO hard, but he made sure that she knew he was there for her. I wanted her to lean on him and finally let SOMEONE in. However, Lizzie and Niccolo's relationship could have made a lot more sense. I understood their little make-out session, but I could have used a little more build-up. Like, maybe that first time could have just been one kiss spurred on my the crying/laughing?

    The end wraps up possibly a little too quickly but in a way that makes sense. Lizzie isn't really "letting go" of Tess, but you finally feel like she has some semblance of inner peace and there's hope for her parents as well. Overall, I thought this was a well-done story of one sister's mental illness and the other's path to forgiveness and letting go. I would recommend it to YA readers who enjoy issue-centered YA reads.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2014

    Spoilr Great book

    At first i thought it was going to be a sad romance book but it turned out to be my faf book it made me cry but yet it was sooo butiful and very well writen .it just made my heart swell as i was reading. Its one those books.its a MUST READ. : )

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2012

    Made a grown man cry

    This book mabe my dad cry like a baby. Yup this is a emotional book that will rock ur world. An amazing story about two sisteers, Tess and Lizzy. When Tess comits sueiside, Lizzy is left with the hard task of trying to let Tess go.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    great book

    This is a good book but sad keep tissues near

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  • Posted October 12, 2011

    Endearing Story of Mental Illness

    When I started this one I wasn't expecting the story that came. This is a tale that weaves in and out of the present and the past, it's as much about Tess and her mental instability as it is about Lizzie and her need to hold onto the sister she loved. I find stories regarding mental illness fascinating and this one was really intriguing because of the fantasy world that Tess lived in. So many times I found myself holding my breath, wondering if that moment was the moment that would change Tess and Lizzie's world, I knew it would happen, I just didn't know when. While Tess is definitely in a different mind frame than most of us, she is still relatable which makes her endearing as she tries to hold on to what makes her happy. Lizzie, even as the little sister, knows the difference between fantasy and reality and at times tries to reel her sister in while at the same time, she wants to believe in her sister's world. It is a heartbreaking story about friendship, family, loss, and survival.

    Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.

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  • Posted October 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    Without Tess is an achingly gorgeous read. The writing is so lyrical and the characters so vivid, I felt as if I were in the same room with them. The story focuses on Lizzie whose sister Tess died when she was younger. Six years later she is still coping with the grief.

    Eleven-year-old Tess lives in a fantasy world. In the beginning I was able to connect with Tess. Like her, I had a very active imagination when I was young. As the story moves forward, the reader realizes there is something mentally wrong with Tess. She refuses to break out of her fantasies and this causes much pain, both physical and emotional, for her younger sister who just wants to grow up. The book alternates between past and present, allowing the reader to experience Lizzie's childhood with her unpredictable sister, and showing us how Lizzie and her family are still dealing with the death of Tess. The book is also spattered with fantastical poetry written by Tess which helps illustrate the chapters nicely. Though at times the wording in the poetry felt a little mature, even for a precocious eleven-year-old, it didn't bother me. This is a book that could very easily be passed over since it does deal with some darker subject matter, but in my opinion, it's one that should not be missed.

    (Review based on an Advanced Reader's Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2012

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