Without Tess

By: Marcella Pixley

As children, Lizzie and Tess shared an imaginary world. But then Tess refused to leave it, and now Lizzie can’t leave memories of her sister behind.

ISBN: 9780374361747

JLG Release: Jan 2012


Sensitive Areas: Bullying
Topics: Sisters , Death , Suicide , Mental illness , Psychosis , Imaginary worlds , Therapy , Poetry , Recovery

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, The Horn Book Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
Lizzie Cohen, 9, and her sister, Tess, 11, are incredibly close. They live in a world all their own, filled with selkies, magical toads, and horses with beautiful wings. When Lizzie tries to leave this fantastical world in favor of reality, Tess tries hard to keep her there. Her imagination becomes more and more delusion
[STARRED REVIEW]
Lizzie Cohen, 9, and her sister, Tess, 11, are incredibly close. They live in a world all their own, filled with selkies, magical toads, and horses with beautiful wings. When Lizzie tries to leave this fantastical world in favor of reality, Tess tries hard to keep her there. Her imagination becomes more and more delusional, and she becomes harmful to herself and others. She starves herself, claiming that she is immortal and doesn’t need nourishment. Then she makes a decision that leaves Lizzie, five years later, struggling to confront the past through Tess’s worn-out Pegasus Journal, full of poetry and disturbing images. With the help of the school psychologist and a childhood friend, Lizzie tries to find a way to let go of her guilt. Alternating between chapters of prose and poetry, the novel gives readers glimpses into the minds of both girls, balancing past and present and slowly revealing the entire story. The setting is a riverside town, and the pivotal events take place at the razor’s edge of fall and winter, creating a chill of apprehension. Girls struggling with anorexia may benefit from reading about an issue that hits close to home, and anyone coping with harmful relationships, especially within the family, will relate to this lyrical, heartrending novel.—Kimberly Castle, Stark County District Library, Canton, OH

Horn Book

The imaginative play of two sisters is tinged with menace in Pixley’s (Freak) intense, lyrical novel. Lizzie was always the follower in the fantastical games her older sister Tess conceived. Now, five years after Tess’s death, Lizzie has taken the copying a step further and is passing off Tess’s poems as her own in her high The imaginative play of two sisters is tinged with menace in Pixley’s (Freak) intense, lyrical novel. Lizzie was always the follower in the fantastical games her older sister Tess conceived. Now, five years after Tess’s death, Lizzie has taken the copying a step further and is passing off Tess’s poems as her own in her high school English class. Floating gracefully between the present and the past, Pixley paints a portrait of eleven-year-old Tess’s “magic” that at first seems luminous. Remembering a game of Pegasus, Lizzie says, “I can almost see the moonbeam wings coming up from the surface of [Tess’s] back, pushing through the skin, the long, white bones rising like glaciers from the sea, the moonbeams feathering out, each tiny filament, shining, sparkling, until she has wings, beautiful, new, magnificent wings.” But the portrait soon darkens. As Tess falls deeper into mental illness, her behavior grows more disturbing, with loyal Lizzie sometimes putting herself in physical danger to protect her sister. The East Coast setting, a fishing village, is beautifully, often heartbreakingly woven into Tess’s delusions, one of which involves the belief that she is a selkie, a seal maiden trapped on land without her seal skin. It is a fitting metaphor for Lizzie and her parents, trapped by their loss. Lizzie eventually realizes that they have to find a way up from the depths of mourning and guilt—to break through the surface to a new life without Tess.

Book Details

ISBN

9780374361747

First Release

January 2012

Genre

Dewey Classification

Fiction

Trim Size

5 1/2" x 8 1/4"

Page Count

224

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.6; Points: 8;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 5.2; Points: 14;

Lexile

Level 790L

Format

Print Book

Edition

-

Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Bullying

Topics

Sisters, Death, Suicide, Mental illness, Psychosis, Imaginary worlds, Therapy, Poetry, Recovery,

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Cover Art

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