#SaturdaysAreBookish | Celebrating a #LakeUnion debut novelist (Kristin Fields) and her story “A Lily in the Light” – a review and a convo during #SatBookChat

Posted Saturday, 30 March, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish created by Jorie in Canva.

After launching this lovely new feature of mine during [Autumn, 2018] it is a pleasure of joy to continue to bring #SaturdaysAreBookish as a compliment focus of my Twitter chat @SatBookChat. If you see the chat icon at the top of my blog (header bar) you can click over to visit with us. The complimentary showcases on my blog will reflect the diversity of stories, authors and publishers I would be featuring on the chat itself. As at the root and heart of the chat are the stories I am reading which compliment the conversations.

#SaturdaysAreBookish throughout [2019] will be featuring the Romance & Women’s Fiction authors I am discovering to read across genre and point of interest. Every Saturday will feature a different author who writes either Romance or Women’s Fiction – the stories I am reading might simply inspire the topics in the forthcoming chats or they might be directly connected to the current guest author.

I am excited about where new guests and new stories will lay down the foundation of inspiring the topics, the conversations and the bookish recommendations towards promoting Romance & Women’s Fiction. Here’s a lovely New Year full of new authors and their stories to celebrate!

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Acquired Book By: I originally crossed paths with Ms Fields several years ago on Twitter – before she was under contract with Lake Union and became a published author. We kept in touch off/on throughout her publishing journey and I had a delightful surprise in hearing from her earlier this year in January about how “A Lily in the Light” was publishing this Spring on the 1st of April. She enquiried if I would be interested in reading the novel and/or hosting her for a guest feature – to where I invited her to join me during @SatBookChat to discuss the novel whilst assembling a secondary interview to run on my blog to compliment a review before her #PubDay.

This was especially lovely considering this is the weekend I am celebrating my 6th blogoversary on Jorie Loves A Story – as the 31st of March, 2019 marks the sixth year I’ve been a book blogger and the day I first created what has become the blog you’re reading today. It is a pleasure of joy to look back at the authors whose paths I have crossed – either through being a book blogger and/or through my interactions on Twitter – I am humbled and honoured I get to take this journey with each of them whilst digging into the worlds they have illuminated through their stories.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Lily in the Light” direct from the author Kristin Fields in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On why this story appealled to me:

I love stories about artists and dancers – in fact, I had planned to finish reading the duology by Nancy Lorenz – as I had previously read “The Strength of Ballerinas” and have for a few years now regretted that I haven’t had the chance to focus on reading the sequel “American Ballerina”. I will be reading this in April – as similar to this novel, there are some stories which ache to be read and to be known.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect out of the story itself – as I knew Esme was passionate about ballet and I knew she was a dancer at her core – dance was a balancing centre in her life. To where she could find a way to redirect her attention off the traumas in her life and find a new reason to focus outside of those adversities. Ballet was something Esme not only was gifted and talented to pursue but in many ways I felt ballet renewed Esme’s soul.

Those moments where Fields is taking us into the everyday routines and the internal thoughts of Esme whilst she is eleven years old is a great blueprint of understanding who she becomes at the age of nineteen. Her dedication and her fortitude to dance is what strengthens her throughout the story but it also a pursuit which gave her a purpose and a future.

The reason I first wanted to read this story is because of knowing the author on Twitter but what what appealled to me about the plotting of the story is how does a family shift through this kind of adversity – do they lose themselves? Do they lose each other? OR do they find a way to rally, to muddle through and stay together? These are questions I didn’t answer on my review as it goes to the heart of the story’s evolution for each reader who reads it – however, it is just as aptly important to mention that this is also a story about a girl who grows into the woman known as Esme. This is her story and has a firm grip on the emotional depths a Women’s Fiction novel can take the reader who is dedicated to reading these kinds of stories.

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#SaturdaysAreBookish | Celebrating a #LakeUnion debut novelist (Kristin Fields) and her story “A Lily in the Light” – a review and a convo during #SatBookChatA Lily in the Light
by Kristin Fields
Source: Direct from Author

A harrowing debut novel of a tragic disappearance and one sister’s journey through the trauma that has shaped her life.

For eleven-year-old Esme, ballet is everything—until her four-year-old sister, Lily, vanishes without a trace and nothing is certain anymore. People Esme has known her whole life suddenly become suspects, each new one hitting closer to home than the last.

Unable to cope, Esme escapes the nightmare that is her new reality when she receives an invitation to join an elite ballet academy in San Francisco. Desperate to leave behind her chaotic, broken family and the mystery surrounding Lily’s disappearance, Esme accepts.

Eight years later, Esme is up for her big break: her first principal role in Paris. But a call from her older sister shatters the protective world she has built for herself, forcing her to revisit the tragedy she’s run from for so long. Will her family finally have the answers they’ve been waiting for? And can Esme confront the pain that shaped her childhood, or will the darkness follow her into the spotlight?

Genres: Autobiographical Fiction, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Genre-bender, Realistic Fiction, Suspense, Women's Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1542041690

Published by Lake Union Publishing

on 1st April, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 275

Published by: Lake Union (@AmazonPub)

Follow Lake Union Authors (@LUAuthors) for updates on their releases!

Converse via: #ALilyIntheLight + #WomensFiction
as well as #LakeUnionAuthors

Available Formats: Hardback, Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

About Kristin Fields

Kristin Fields

Kristin Fields grew up in Queens, which she likes to think of as a small town next to a big city. Kristin studied writing at Hofstra University, where she was awarded the Eugene Schneider Award for Short Fiction. After college, Kristin found herself working on a historic farm, as a high school English teacher, designing museum education programs, and is currently leading an initiative to bring gardens to New York City public schools. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

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my review of a lily in the light:

Before you can even catch your breath – A Lily in the Light delivers a gut-punch of dramatic suspense in how a little girl whose only four years old can go missing from her family home before dinner is served. Everyone else is accounted and present; which makes it eerily strange to have a missing daughter out a sibling group of four. Three girls and one boy – yet this is where we find Esme’s family on the night Lily disappeared. The girls’ had been having one of their sibling rows where a younger sister is interfering with the study practices of her older sisters whilst the father was hoping Esme would buckle down and make dinner. The mother had been out at church and you hadn’t even realised there was a brother until he wandered in to join them at the table.

What made this such a compelling beginning is how closely tight Esme and Lily seemed – Esme went out of her way to ensure Lily felt a part of her life. She played a game with her on the commute ride home from ballet practice and she was constantly involving herself in Lily’s conversations, musings and the curiously quirky habits Lily would entice Esme to recognise as her regular behaviour patterns. In essence, Esme was Lily’s keeper, champion and sisterly influencer in the ways of the world as only an eleven year old could guide her towards understanding.

Lily in turn had a cheeky way of endearing you towards her and had a lightness about her innocence. She didn’t understand when she was being overly intrusive and she definitely had a streak of dependence in her as she preferred to be round her sisters even if her own presence wasn’t wanted in return. It was an interesting dynamic as we first were greeted by this family through Esme’s ballet class – of seeing her hard-won achievement being down-played by her Mum if only to thwart her possible ego which thus far along hadn’t even surfaced. Though you can respect where her mother is coming from as ballet is not just a coveted form of artistic expression – it is cutthroat, mind-numbing difficult and soul crushing if you allow the negative sides of ballet to attach themselves to your spirit. It felt refreshing to see a mother who was trying to keep her child humble and self-secure as long as she could knowing what might happen once she reached her mid-teens and all could be lost in the fray of competition.

As everything starts to unravel for Esme and her family, Fields tucks us close to the police officers who are investigating the scene though rather surprisingly, I was curious about why the parents were absent when the sisters were being questioned. There wasn’t an exchange between their parents on the street to when the detective took them back upstairs to their apartment to ask them about Lily and the dynamics of their family; which left me curious why an eleven and fifteen year old would be questioned without at least one parent present. Though of course, part of my logic about that scene meant it was one way for them to gain information without the influence of their parents but they didn’t have a female officer or social worker present either which felt off a bit to me. Though thankfully one did join the girls once he had concluded speaking with them.

In the days and hours after Lily’s disappearance – you start to see how this family is spiralling through the devastating loss of their daughter and sister. Time begins to slip as memories start to re-percolate through Esme’s mind and heart. We’re rooted inside these siblings’ lives – as each of them has an immovable connection to the other; good or bad and indifferent. The girls’ argue and disagree and the brother is frustrated to the hilt with his life and the situation at hand. The anger boiling in the home is high but so is the grief and the loss of understanding what they’re meant to do if Lily doesn’t reappear.

Fields found a way to keep this tautly written – we do not evolve too far afield from when Lily was simply gone to where we find them in the future. There are a lot of hours betwixt and between – where you see the different shades of their personalities, the lows of their sorrow and the uncertainties of how a missing child irrevocably changes each of them. Everyone in their life soon becomes suspect and the small gestures their neighbours bring to their door (ie. food, gifts, things to cheer them through the darker moments, etc) becomes a massive undertaking for young Esme, whose become entrusted with writing down each of the givers for the police. It was a certain logic of understanding about the gifts and the food; of how someone guilty could hide in plain sight and be dismissed without the realisation of what that dismissal could mean in regards to Lily.

There was a moment where I questioned why we were threading through the eyes and mind of Esme over Madeline; as the elder sister felt like a rather obvious choice to voice this journey they took as a family after an abduction – however, in that moment, I started to piece together other observations and noted that perhaps this is one story which has breathed its life outside the pages it was written. There seemed to be an overwhelming sense of ‘self’ within the folds of the story – to where the interactions between the siblings felt dearly organic, the progressive way in which the siblings were entwined and rooted together inasmuch as how it is the children of the story who have more to share about Lily than sometimes even the adults. It wasn’t until I discussed this story during #SatBookChat where I tapped on the truth of the matter – portions of this story were autobiographical and thereby those resonations I was picking up whilst reading the opening bridge of the story were echoes out of the journalled pages of Fields’ life with her own siblings.

Similar to when Lily disappeared from their sight, we shifted forward in time without any fanfare attached to the segue which found us with Esme in France. She was nineteen, an experienced dancer and a young woman caught in an endless sea of psychological trauma as she hadn’t yet found the key to unlock her mind’s gripping hold on her younger self’s need for understanding about Lily. The momentum of the story calms down momentarily – to guide you forward into where Madeline, Nick, Esme and their parents were now in the present – a full eight years after Lily vanished.

It was necessary to have the the time shift – to show how their lives had become fragmented and fractured – half shells of lives once lived with passion, purpose and thoughtfulness were turnt into an altered state where everything simply felt awkwardly different from other people’s lives. They were still tethered to each other, even if in the years since Lily was with them, they had each in turn radically changed in front of each other, they each strove to find a semblance of something to focus on in those intervening years. The parents had the hardest time, of course, as they were without a rudder and a compass – they could not move forward because they were living within a shadow of the past.

I must admit – I questioned if I could handle reading the conclusion of the story – more than once, as with so many different current events that this novel could have been inspired by or based upon or simply given a nod of awareness about – the one which came to my mind the most was the most recent case about the three girls in Cleveland. How you can vanish and disappear so close to where you had lived without anyone finding a trace of you afterwards.

It is a haunting novel of suspense – of the pieces of Esme’s mind which splintered itself into an unhealthy connection to Lily and how this fusion of reality and unreality became the backbone of her growing years whilst Lily was absent. Madeline found something to anchour her mind outside of the family and Nick, despite seemingly like the brother would always flounder actually surprises you for having found ‘himself’ in the end. Each of them are a key piece of whom Lily represented in the story and of whom Lily truly is by the conclusion. Siblings have a very unique bond – it is something that I observed whilst in school and since I graduated through my friendships where irregardless if the siblings were closely connected as children, they still were invested in each others lives as adults. Fields brings this uniqueness to the story – she layered in insight into siblings and their complicated connections to each other whilst she offered a clue towards how shattering it is for families to be left with the heart-stabbing unknowns after a child is taken.

Fly in the Ointment:

Despite the fact this is a dramatic narrative and emotions are running high throughout the story – what surprised me a bit is the stronger language which flickered through the story like flies at a picnic – unsuspecting and annoyingly present. I didn’t feel the stronger language aided the story-line nor the personalities of the characters who used the words – I felt the narrative was strong on its own without the additions.

Specifically because Fields writes with a developed creative style where metaphoric phrases and unique turns of speech are a mainstay in her novel. I appreciated the creativity she employed to have this novel re-set a texture of awareness and that is why I felt the stronger words sprinkled here or there were more of a step-back than step-forward for the story.

I honestly would have preferred reading this without them – even when tempers flared and emotions were on the brink of collapsing altogether – it was hard to justify the usage against the poetic beauty of the rest of the narrative.

on dramatic & suspenseful styling of kristin fields:

Fields has such a quiet capture of suspense within the opening bridge of her novel – you honestly do not realise how suspended you will become reading A Lily in the Light until you reach that fated moment where Lily is simply elsewhere rather than in-scene with her sisters Esme and Madeline. It is one of those heart-clutching moments in a story where the unthinkable is unfolding in front of you and you can’t help but turn the pages quicker to see if you can spy out any small detail that would explain what can’t be explained as not even the reader was given inside clues towards what had happened outside of what the characters were living through. The perspective is hugged close to their perspectives and their awareness of the events as they were unfolding – giving us that fated realisation that we would not understand the fullness of what happened this tragic night until Fields was ready to reveal her final revelation.

Aside from finding the language to become quite a barrier after the halfway mark when it picked up its inclusivity – I found it rather an interestingly written story as it takes the psychological and sociological avenues to explore the internal conflict of a family in crisis. Fields never lets go of the tightness of her characters’ emotional states – they can never truly feel calm but they find a way to put a patch on their emotional reactions if only to have a hint towards what normalcy could look like for them if Lily hadn’t exited their lives.

As you move through this novel, your guttingly familiar with how each of these characters choose to move forward – they each made small choices from the moment Lily left their lives at the age of four to what is revealled eight years lateron when their all young adults living their own independent lives outside their family home. It is a testament to the research Fields did about cases like this but also, from an autobiographical stand-point – how to use IRL memories towards building the backbone of a character’s identity and how those characters perceive themselves within their sibling unit.

It is a story that gives you a bit of a numbing headache to read – the intensity of the prose and the directional guidance of Fields encouraging you forward deeper into the story – leaves a trace of this heartache on your mind. It isn’t a story to read lightly nor one to let to much time simmer after beginning,.. you will want to know how it ends and you definitely want to see how it all comes back to centre with Esme, Madeline, Nick and Lily.

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This book review is courtesy of:

Kristin Fields

Be sure to read our #SatBookChat convo

#SatBookChat announcement banner for 30th of March, 2019 created by Jorie in Canva.

& follow the discussion we shared about “A Lily in the Light”!

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this story counted towards my 2019 reading goals:

2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “A Lily in the Light”, book synopsis, author biography and author photograph of Kristin Fields were all provided by the author Kristin Fields and are used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Saturdays Are Bookish banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 30 March, 2019 by jorielov in #SaturdaysAreBookish, 21st Century, ARC | Galley Copy, Author Found me On Twitter, Autobiographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Ballet, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookish Discussions, Brothers and Sisters, Coming-Of Age, Contemporary Thriller, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Family Drama, Family Life, Fly in the Ointment, Genre-bender, Geographically Specific, Indie Author, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Modern Day, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, New York City, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Realistic Fiction, Siblings, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Sociological Behavior, Suspense, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

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