Review: Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

Title: Glimpse

Author: Carol Lynch Williams

Publisher: Paula Wiseman Books (Simon & Schuster imprint)

Release Date: May 1st, 2012 (paperback edition)

Interest: Verse Novel

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads):

This stunning and PEN Award–winning novel of triumph over trauma is a “page-turner for Ellen Hopkins fans” (Kirkus Reviews).

In one moment it is over.  In one moment it is gone.    

Twelve-year-old Hope’s life is turned upside down when her older sister, Lizzie, becomes an elective mute and is institutionalized after trying to kill herself. Hope and Lizzie have relied on each other from a young age, ever since their dad died. Their mother, who turns tricks to support her family, is a reluctant and unreliable parent—at best. During the course of this lyrical and heartbreaking narrative, told in blank verse from an exceptionally promising YA voice, readers will discover the chilling reason why Lizzie has stopped speaking—and why Hope is the only one who can bring the truth to light and save her sister.

Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams is gripping and intense.  On the very first page Hope walks in on her sister Lizzie holding a shotgun, her finger on the trigger.  Not since reading Burned and Identical, both by Ellen Hopkins, have I read a verse novel so raw with emotion and suspense.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have a sister, but I love reading stories about sisters and their relationships.  Hope and Lizzie are as close as sisters can be, so it’s an absolute shock when Hope walks in and finds Lizzie this way.  Carol Lynch Williams has done a fantastic job portraying the bond between these two sisters.  Hope is slow to realize why her sister wants to kill herself, and part of that reason is because Lizzie has been committed to protecting and sheltering her sister.  What I like about Glimpse and the dynamics between Hope and Lizzie is that we see first hand how concerned, conflicted, and confused Hope is about her sister.  Hope doesn’t understand what’s going on between Lizzie and her mother, but she knows it’s making her jealous.  While feeling jealous, however, Hope gets the feeling that Lizzie is hiding something important from their mother, so she tries her best to protect Lizzie and her secrets.  Their relationship rides a fine line, but it leans mostly to the side of caring and protecting rather than jealous and malicious.

I’ve become critical of verse novels, and while some of the free verse felt choppy, the writing as a whole worked for me.  Some of the choppy lines came from sections where Hope repeats random sentences or words.  I’m sure it’s for effect and drama, but those few lines were more distracting than anything else.  The majority of the verse, however, is lyrical and smooth.  I say this often in my reviews of verse novels, but I’m so impressed when an author is able to convey strong emotions and paint vivid scenes and characters with so few words.  Carol Lynch Williams does an excellent job doing both.

Carol Lynch Williams tackles some mature issues in Glimpse, but she does with subtlety and grace.  As I began figuring out what was happening I grew nervous because I was wondering how it was going to be handled later in the story.  The revelation is clear, but it’s not overdone or graphic.  It’s enough to gain understanding and break your heart at the same time.  Glimpse is a powerful book and one not to miss.


  1. This book sounds great! I’m going to have to check it out.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. thaliansmhc says:

    I’m glad you liked this–I did too, although it was heartbreaking. If you like verse novels and novels about sisters, I was going to recommend Identical…but I see you’ve already read it! I actually have a verse novel about twins (it’s VERY different from Identical, though!) coming out next year, and I have an excerpt up on my blog now if you’re interested. It’s Thanks for the great review!

  3. Laura_noname says:

    I kid you not I legit cried my eyes out and ive never had a book give me so much feeling before! Glimpse is very detailed and is very entertaining!! there wasn’t a point that I wasn’t on the end of my seat wondering whats going to happen next!

    10 for sure!!

    they need to make a “glimpse 2 ” asap! I loved it!!


  1. […] Title: Glimpse Author: Carol Lynch Williams Publisher: Paula Wiseman Books (Simon & Schuster imprint) Release Date: May 1st, 2012 (paperback edition) Interest: Verse Novel Source: Purchased Sum…  […]

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