A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations. 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.
In June of 2016, my mother, Gloria and I had the great opportunity to read Jilted, the third book in the Mended Heart series written by this author, Varina Denman (see review HERE). When I saw Looking Glass Lies available to read and review, I accepted the assignment. The cover of the book looked pretty intriguing and that had me curious.
The main character of Looking Glass Lies is Cecily Ross, who is thirty-something and has recently divorced, causing her to move back to her hometown in Canyon, Texas to live with her father where she plans to try to put her life back together and heal. Unfortunately for Cecily, she doesn’t know the saying, “no matter where I go, there I am”, because she brings her self-harming, grief and depression (and other “baggage”) back home with her. She struggles with her self-image, and I think so many of us can identify with that issue.
In the process, Cecily connects with former school friend and counselor, Graham “Cracker” Harper. He suggests a support group, and Cecily then gets connected with a group of women whose leader Shanty Espinosa. Shanty is a quirky and outgoing character who pushes the members of the group out of their comfort zone. Shanty challenges the group to do and try new things to overcome their feelings of poor body image and depression. Shanty motivates and encourages Cecily to love herself just the way she is. I loved Shanty’s character and I especially loved the fact that she has her own social media page (@ShameonShanty)!
As Cecily begins to explore herself, she finds that her road to growth isn’t always smooth, but she does make steps forward in learning to love herself and others. While Cecily will struggle with body-shaming for the rest of her life, she is able to find hope and become a healthier person through it.
Ms. Denman writes a book that deals with real issues of broken people trying to put the puzzle pieces back together. Overall, the book has well written characters and it’s a great read. While the subject isn’t a light one, the story is very good nonetheless. You’ll definitely want to pick this novel up.
About Varina Denman: An avid reader and blogger, Varina Denman enjoys writing fiction about Christian women and the unique struggles they face. She seems to have a knack for describing small town life, and is currently working on the three-book Mended Heart Series. The first book in the series, Jaded, won the 2013 ACFW Genesis contest for romance.
Varina attended three Texas universities over a span of five years, majoring in four subjects and earning zero degrees. However, she can now boast sixteen years as a home educator, volunteering in the local cooperative where she has taught numerous subjects including creative writing and literature.
Even though Varina has spoken at ladies’ retreats and taught women’s Bible classes, she finds the greatest fulfillment facilitating prayer groups. She lives in Burleson, Texas, where she helps with Family Ministry in her home congregation. Varina is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and North Texas Christian Writers.