I watch for a moment, my heart explodes. This little girl, dressed in white, her face bright as she swirls and twirls, dancing in the sunshine. ‘Mummy!’ she says, running towards me. I catch her, no question. ‘Mummy, you’re here,’ she says.’ And I hold her tight.
Imagine you get home one day… and waiting for you on your doorstep is a gift.
It is wrapped beautifully, and inside is a notebook, its pages empty. There is no message.
But its sender has a story to tell.
About a secret. About the little girl you once were. About everything you know about your family.
The gifts keep arriving. But when tragedy strikes – leaving your beloved only daughter fighting for her life – the person who has been sending the gifts will have no choice but to come forward. And to finally tell the truth.
Even if it’s the very thing that will tear your family apart…
A heartbreakingly beautiful novel about motherhood, loss and family secrets, for fans of Kerry Fisher, Susan Lewis and Jodi Picoult.
Readers are loving What We Leave Behind:
‘I am completely at a loss for words! This book is incredible from start to finish!... Characters that you truly bond with and a gritty, captivating storyline that makes you want to turn the pages faster and faster but a writing style so perfect that you can't skip a single word… absolutely fantastic! My favourite of Anna's by far! 10/10.’ Tishylou’s World ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘I absolutely LOVE this wonderfully enthralling story about family, motherhood and friendship… An absolutely unmissable read for me… I am in awe of the talent this author has for writing such absorbing and captivating stories and I confess to being tearful on more than one occasion… I recommend this novel as truly excellent, a 5* read in every possible way.’ NetGalley Reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Heartfelt, beautifully written and left me sobbing. A truly remarkable read that I could not put down, I was hooked from the very first page.’ NetGalley Reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Wow!!! Where to even begin??? What an absolutely fantastic and gripping book!!!... Absolute roller-coaster ride of emotions!!!… Had me flying through the pages and filled with suspense… I have definitely found another favourite author.’ Bookworm86 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Anna Mansell is truly one of my favourite writers… She writes with such emotion and flair that it’s impossible not to fall head over heels for her books... I struggled to put this book down. A true page turner.’ Goodreads Reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘OMG… Wowzers, I couldn't get enough of it… A stunning read… One to remember.’ Nicki’s Book Blog ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘What an absolute heart-wrenching and emotional read. I truly didn’t see where the author was going with the plot, and it truly snuck up on me… A great storyline, and totally unexpected. This book will capture every emotion that you have, and it captivated me from page one… Unforgettable.’ Goodreads Reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Anna Mansell is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and this book was the icing on the cake. I absolutely loved it. This was an excellent and at times heart wrenching story that pulled me right into it from the first page.’ Goodreads Reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘I can't say how much I loved this story!! Such a feel-good book. Had me hooked from the very beginning.’ Goodreads Reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘I loved this story! The details are incredible and it flows smoothly from each character in this puzzle needed to be solved!… Truly had me reading until I learned the truth! Excellent!’ Goodreads Reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Fabulous. This book captures your heart… I got so engrossed in this story… Enjoy the ride: it’s a good one.’ Goodreads Reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sweet emotional tearjerker
What Became of Us, by Lisa Mansell, is the story of three best friends, a heartbreaking tragedy, the things we do to help those we love the most, and the unexpected surprises that threaten to destroy a family.
Lisa, Holly, and Paul have been best friends for years and have been there for each other through the highs and lows of life. When Lisa’s boyfriend Brian leaves her with their newborn baby Poppy, she’s is devastated. Her overbearing protective father forces her to return to her home town but at least she has the comfort of her two best friends and her grandmother. When they were younger it was just Lisa and Holly because Holly’s brother Paul was a few years older. Now that they are adults though, the three of them are as close as ever.
Lisa is caught off guard (at the beginning of the book) when Paul confesses that he’s in love with her just before he and Holly leave for a brief trip. Lisa starts to question her feelings about Paul and starts to realize that she may feel the same way, but she doesn’t have much time to think about it because her grandmother passes away. Since she has always had a small family, Lisa is deeply saddened at her loss. Now it’s just Poppy, Lisa, and her dad, and she has always had a strained relationship with her dad. He’s overbearing, controlling, and overly opinionated. Lisa’s mother and other grandmother and grandfather died in a car accident when she was an infant so she has never knew them. Since Lisa’s Grandmother’s passes away when Holly and Paul are out of town, Holly rushes to be by Lisa’s side as soon as she returns. Holly warns Lisa about hearing that her ex, Poppy’s father, has returned to town. Brian was the love of Lisa’s life, and even though she knows she could never love him again, she starts to question if she should try to form a relationship with him so that he could be in Poppy’s life and she’s not quite sure how Paul would fit into the mix of it all. Holly’s son is the same age as Poppy, so they often get a chance to catch up at their school. Paul is also very close to his nephew, so its not uncommon for them to do things together. After seeing Brian though, Lisa isn’t sure how to respond to Paul’s confession about his feelings for her.
When she starts finding gifts on her doorstep she questions everyone she knows, but no one admits to leaving them and she’s never able to see who drops them off. The first gift is a somewhat personal journal that Lisa receives on her first day returning to work. It’s the first time Lisa has had a job since Poppy was born, and even though her dad objects to it, Lisa is excited to be earning her own money again especially since she’ll. be working at Poppy’s school.
Suddenly Lisa’s faced with the worst tragedy imaginable when Poppy is injured and is in a coma. As always, Paul and Holly are there for her, but she certainly can’t cope well enough to work out her feelings towards Paul. When Brian comes to the hospital asking to be part of their lives, she’s more confused than ever. Ultimately Brian asks Lisa to return with him so they can try to be a family again. He admits that he was wrong for leaving her and says he wants to be in Poppy’s life. With the gifts still coming, Lisa is more confused than ever because the people who are closest to her continue to deny their involvement. As a result of the tragedy and other circumstances, Lisa is faced with having to live with her father again. As intrusive as ever, she feels trapped by his presence and demands. She also comes across a startling discovery that makes her question everything he has ever told her. When she sets out on her own to find out the truth, Holly and Paul are as supportive as ever, but Lisa is shocked at what she finds. When she confronts her dad about it, he continues telling her the same lies he’s told her throughout her life. Everything Lisa has ever known as the truth is no longer what it seemed, so she’s in no position to make any big decisions about her feelings for Paul or whether or not she wants to allow Brian into Poppy’s life.
Eventually the truth comes out, and it is a very unexpected twist! Although I loved the story, the characters, and the twist, I’ll admit that some of the details about the twist frustrated me. I cannot be specific because that would spoil the surprise but I believe that some of the information was inaccurate and that bothered me. Altogether it was a good book, but it just wasn’t quite for me when the details near the end emerged. I loved Anna Mansell’s creativity in What Became of Us, and felt that it was a sweet story though. I liked her writing style enough that I’ll be looking into other books she has written. It was an easy read and easy to follow, and I loved the character development, plot, and emphasis on family and friends.
What We Leave Behind
First time reading this author. I found the book overly long, and the characters aggravated me taking too long to express their feelings. The story had a bit of a mystery to it and it managed to keep me reading. I worried for little Poppy, worried that she wouldn’t come back to herself.It was well written.