A Lily in the Light
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?

A Lily in the Light Details

TitleA Lily in the Light
Author
ReleaseApr 1st, 2019
PublisherBrilliance Audio
ISBN-139781721337187
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Mystery

A Lily in the Light Review

  • Barbara Davis
    January 1, 1970
    “What happens when a four-year-old vanishes without a trace, when a family is unshaped and long held dreams begin to unspool—when you don’t even know what to hope for anymore? These are the questions Kristin Fields deftly explores in her beautifully written debut, A Lily in the Light. Honest, heartfelt, and at times wrenching, Fields’ novel exposes every heartache and raw nerve of her compellingly flawed characters, touching on the many ways we punish ourselves and those we love when life leaves “What happens when a four-year-old vanishes without a trace, when a family is unshaped and long held dreams begin to unspool—when you don’t even know what to hope for anymore? These are the questions Kristin Fields deftly explores in her beautifully written debut, A Lily in the Light. Honest, heartfelt, and at times wrenching, Fields’ novel exposes every heartache and raw nerve of her compellingly flawed characters, touching on the many ways we punish ourselves and those we love when life leaves us feeling powerless—and how we must ultimately learn to forgive.” ~ Barbara Davis, bestselling author of When Never Comes
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  • The Just-About-Cocky Ms M
    January 1, 1970
    Bear with me a moment, folks. When I looked over this month’s First Reads, I didn’t see much of interest. At all. I almost decided to read something else on my towering TBR pile instead, but then, I spotted this book in the category “Book Club Fiction.” What is that, exactly? A book replete with all sorts of sentimental and sugary pablum, family and romantic relationships hitting érocks the size of pebbles, eventual maturity with an obligatory dollop of forgiveness, and a neatly tied-up happily- Bear with me a moment, folks. When I looked over this month’s First Reads, I didn’t see much of interest. At all. I almost decided to read something else on my towering TBR pile instead, but then, I spotted this book in the category “Book Club Fiction.” What is that, exactly? A book replete with all sorts of sentimental and sugary pablum, family and romantic relationships hitting érocks the size of pebbles, eventual maturity with an obligatory dollop of forgiveness, and a neatly tied-up happily-ever-after finale that calls for lace handkerchiefs to come out and dab delicately at eyes?I don’t know a thing about book clubs. I suspect they would read books I’d hate, and because I rarely temper my dissenting opinions, I’d be tossed out of any book club on my denim-clad posterior.So I took a chance, mentally giving this book a big eye roll for what seemed like the all-too-clichéd trope of a child who vanishes mysteriously, a fractured family, a main character carting buckets of guilt, and then spending years of wondering what happened. The twist was the inclusion of ballet, and as a genetically clumsy person who couldn’t plié if my life depended on it, I have always adored ballet.Being initially wrong about a book’s premise and the likelihood that I’ll hate it is always a surprise, and refreshing. So I was wrong, and I really liked this book.The protagonist, Esme [I really like that name!] is eleven, an aspiring ballerina with sweaty, smelly feet, a detail you rarely encounter but one that is amazingly accurate. Lily is her four-year-old sister who waits for Esme’s dance classes to end, accompanied by their mother, the improbably named Cerise, who is not quite as bad as those awful women in Dance Moms, but close enough. So by the first five or six pages, these three characters have been deftly described; they have strong skeletons that the author will continue to flesh out, little detail by little detail. Then the rest of the family appears, the older sister Madeline, tense, impatient, self-centered, Nick, seventeen, slovenly, rebellious, and sullen, and Andre, the father who drives a taxi and seems at a loss in the midst of his loud, squabbling family. What could be banal in the hands of an average writer is saved by quirky, unobtrusive details of two parents and four children on the edge of Port Washington, a considerable remove from the glitter of New York City.Speaking in a child’s voice is difficult, and I’ve read a few books that manage to get it right. Oddly enough, Stephen King is probably the best with authentic kidspeak. Yet Esme, who tells the story from the beginning, is a perfectly believable pre-teen worrying about dancing en pointe, and expressing that worry and all the other bits and pieces of her ordinary life—except for ballet—as a child her age would. If it seemed to be a little more telling than showing, I didn’t mind because the story’s flow was neither hampered nor slowed.The pivotal point of Lily’s disappearance also missed the usual Lifetime Movie scenario because it was Esme who experienced it from her still childish point of view. And the years that passed after this moment showed a mature dancer, but one with a hole in her heart. That too could have been a Hallmark Moment, again saved by the author’s refusal to use stock material. Fortunately the world of ballet survived, and danced on. I’m grateful for that. And the ending? That “Who knew?” revelation we’ve all seen before countless times in print and on cable, but this time… well, I won’t spoil it.At the end here, I must say I haven’t encountered a done-to-death trope rescued so adroitly from further inanity with such cleverness, and such maturity. Rather ruined LMN for me, though.If I’d been invited to join a book club, and the club chose to read this book, I would have kept my membership intact, behaving myself, offering deserved praise, and not spilling my wine. Who knew, indeed?
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  • PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
    January 1, 1970
    1.5 STARSEleven-year-old aspiring ballerina Esme’s life changes the day her little sister Lily disappears. Eight years later, older sister Madeline calls Esme in Paris with startling news.Either I have terrible luck choosing Amazon Prime Read First Books, or those books aren’t very good. I enjoy books about child abductions and stories about ballerinas, so I was excited to start reading A LILY IN THE LIGHT. Kristin Fields came up with a great premise, but the execution lacked both tension and em 1.5 STARSEleven-year-old aspiring ballerina Esme’s life changes the day her little sister Lily disappears. Eight years later, older sister Madeline calls Esme in Paris with startling news.Either I have terrible luck choosing Amazon Prime Read First Books, or those books aren’t very good. I enjoy books about child abductions and stories about ballerinas, so I was excited to start reading A LILY IN THE LIGHT. Kristin Fields came up with a great premise, but the execution lacked both tension and emotion. Esme was an easy character to embrace. I wanted to be able to feel her heart.The writing was fine., though lacked a distinct voice. I kept wanting more from the story. I wanted to care and just didn’t.I bumped by rating up to 2 stars, because I did care enough to finish.
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  • Suze
    January 1, 1970
    LilyMy First Reads choice for March, an easy choice- the synopsis spoke of an interesting, emotional story about a missing four year old and the destruction of a family. The first half of the book is told from the point of view of Lily's eleven year old sister- an aspiring ballet dancer.Esme, eight years later is in Paris, when Madeline calls her with news of a girl found locked in a basement. I won't put any spoilers in my review, you need to read it yourself. But the continuing havoc on Esme a LilyMy First Reads choice for March, an easy choice- the synopsis spoke of an interesting, emotional story about a missing four year old and the destruction of a family. The first half of the book is told from the point of view of Lily's eleven year old sister- an aspiring ballet dancer.Esme, eight years later is in Paris, when Madeline calls her with news of a girl found locked in a basement. I won't put any spoilers in my review, you need to read it yourself. But the continuing havoc on Esme and her family is heart wrenching. It's a good book, gets you emotionally involved from the beginning.
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  • Carissa
    January 1, 1970
    Will Please ReadersI think this book will please readers who are drawn to it. It has all of the elements of a good story. For me, I can’t put my finger on it, but it was missing that something that would make it a special standout novel. Maybe it was too sweet and tied up so nicely and that took away some of its authenticity? I’m not sure. It was a good book, certainly. I just wanted more once I’d finished.
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  • Elena Hartwell
    January 1, 1970
    Review forthcoming on the New York Journal of Books.
  • Lynda Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    My Kindle First choice for March....it's the only choice this particular month for me whereas sometimes I could pick 2 or 3......and then I opt for the one with most pages as a rule. However, none really jumped out at me this time, even this one, but this is the closest to my type of story. It's very well written but probably a little too flowery and deep for my liking. I almost gave up around a quarter of the way in but was pleased I persevered as it got better as it went along. Passages like " My Kindle First choice for March....it's the only choice this particular month for me whereas sometimes I could pick 2 or 3......and then I opt for the one with most pages as a rule. However, none really jumped out at me this time, even this one, but this is the closest to my type of story. It's very well written but probably a little too flowery and deep for my liking. I almost gave up around a quarter of the way in but was pleased I persevered as it got better as it went along. Passages like "Cerise had rolled into the room as quietly as a dropped Chapstick forgotten on the floor" or ".....imagined Lily was tucked into the space beside Esme, warm as a potato in her slipper-feet pajamas" just make me roll my eyes in exasperation !! The scenes with Andre and Esme in San Francisco were some of my favourites, though, and I raced through the final sitting as I was just dying to know how things ended up for them all.It was horribly sad to see how fractured this family became after Lily disappeared-the stuff of nightmares. This story mainly sticks with Esme, who I liked a great deal, though I'm not a ballet fan and clearly the author must be, as I think we had way too much dance detail where it really wasn't required. However, I did look up Anna Pavlova as I compiled this review to see the photo of her that Esme liked so much (with Jack) and there's a whole set and they're just lovely.She spelt Tabu like this when it should be Taboo and had the apostrophe wrong in cardinal's and didn't capitalise French but no other errors whatsoever so presentation is terrific and very impressive indeed for a debut. I'd read her again.
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  • M
    January 1, 1970
    For thrills, suspense or mystery, look elsewhere This Amazon First Read is unlike most books on Goodreads’ Domestic Thriller Shelf. “A Lily In the Light” has a few thrills, but is loaded with feels—as in bucketfuls of personal/family drama, angst, and guilt. It has a romance of sorts, plus a hint of paranormal. This is women’s fiction chronicling the emotional journey taken by eleven yr old Esme—plus that of her siblings and parents—after her 4 yr old sister vanishes and cannot be found. The aut For thrills, suspense or mystery, look elsewhere This Amazon First Read is unlike most books on Goodreads’ Domestic Thriller Shelf. “A Lily In the Light” has a few thrills, but is loaded with feels—as in bucketfuls of personal/family drama, angst, and guilt. It has a romance of sorts, plus a hint of paranormal. This is women’s fiction chronicling the emotional journey taken by eleven yr old Esme—plus that of her siblings and parents—after her 4 yr old sister vanishes and cannot be found. The author employs the flashback and forward technique that I tolerate but don’t particularly enjoy. The pacing is leisurely with a few exceptions. I liked and empathized with the protagonist, Esme, as an eleven year old, but she felt distant when written as an adult. None of the other characters were particularly appealing. There were a few ancillary plot digressions (and characters) that added little to the story. Although I’ve attended ballet performances, I know little about the world. I was mystified whilst reading about ballet classes, dance positions, techniques, etc. I stopped reading this book, and instead read online about ballet and watched ballet videos to help me envision Esme’s ballet performance. The author’s skillful writing saved this book, elevating it to 3 stars.
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  • Deb Poole
    January 1, 1970
    I'm obsessed with books with a ballet backdrop. So when I saw this for free on Kindle first reads, I was very excited to read it. Interesting story; the youngest child of a NYC family disappears, leaving them all somewhat adrift. The book concentrates on one character, middle child Esme, who is an aspiring ballerina, age 11. The story is mainly about how the disappearance of Lily, their 4 year old sister/daughter, affects their family in various debilitating ways. The book started off well, but I'm obsessed with books with a ballet backdrop. So when I saw this for free on Kindle first reads, I was very excited to read it. Interesting story; the youngest child of a NYC family disappears, leaving them all somewhat adrift. The book concentrates on one character, middle child Esme, who is an aspiring ballerina, age 11. The story is mainly about how the disappearance of Lily, their 4 year old sister/daughter, affects their family in various debilitating ways. The book started off well, but really seemed to get repetitive toward the end. I kept feeling like I was reading the same page over and over again, like the author had a difficult time wrapping up the storyline. End result, although I liked the book, I didn't LOVE the book.
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  • Nancy S
    January 1, 1970
    I recieved this book through Amazon First Reads. It is the tale of what happens to a family after the youngest daughter disappears, but mostly about the affect on her 11 year old sister, an aspiring ballerina. Life moves forward, but nothing is ever the same. Then when, eight years later, Lily is returned to them, the family must relearn how to be a family. The emotional ups and downs are painful.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent read. Couldn't put it down. This is a book that, unfortunately, will speak to many who have suffered the loss of a child or family member in any way. Honest depiction of the emotional turmoil and often misplaced guilt caused by such a loss.
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  • Rochelle Weinstein
    January 1, 1970
    A Lily in the Light captures family in the throes of chaos. A journey through guilt and suffering, the world of ballet, culminating in the miracles achieved through both. Fields is an emerging literary talent and her debut, deftly written, uncovers the heart of family and forgiveness.
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  • Elaine Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    It was good book except for the endingI was really disappointed that it left one hanging!
  • Elizabeth Gertsch
    January 1, 1970
    WowWhere to begin. First off I won't give the story line away. I will say that this was a very good read. True to life. Could and has happened to many unfortunately. Very captivating novel. Thank you Kristen Fields.
  • deborah thompson
    January 1, 1970
    TDidn't like it, it was to slow. Dragged on on on on on so sad then happy took forever no
  • Therese Walsh
    January 1, 1970
    A Lily in the Light is a tender, heart-wrenching novel that considers the long-ranging effects of shattering loss upon a young dancer and her family. A haunting and beautifully rendered tale of survival and the careful tending to a wild and desperately needed hope. Highly recommended.
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  • Mags
    January 1, 1970
    I tore apart this book with such ferocious thirst, one of those stories that you start and it's never easy to let go without finishing it right then and there.Esme's four-year-old sister Lily disappears into the night before dinner like any other, and never came back. Suddenly Esme's life was of hopelessness, suspect leads, flyers, uncertainty, and policemen. The loss of her sister was akin to her losing the rest of her family, where everyone suffered alone. The only thing left for Esme was ball I tore apart this book with such ferocious thirst, one of those stories that you start and it's never easy to let go without finishing it right then and there.Esme's four-year-old sister Lily disappears into the night before dinner like any other, and never came back. Suddenly Esme's life was of hopelessness, suspect leads, flyers, uncertainty, and policemen. The loss of her sister was akin to her losing the rest of her family, where everyone suffered alone. The only thing left for Esme was ballet.When Lily was freshly gone, dancing felt unnecessary and lavish, a freedom she had that Lily didn't. As soon as she came back to it, it became her outlet again. She is torn between pursuing her dreams of becoming a ballerina, which required all her attention and time, while also fighting the ease of spiraling down the drain of despair as her parents had after Lily's case went cold.Suffice it to say, Esme chose to dance through her grief and up the ladder. With her sister's ghost still holding her back and also urging her on, she was now becoming a star after eight years of hard work, therapy, and constantly trying to fill in the loss she and her family has endured. Her parents, never giving up on finding Lily, has become an unhealthy part of her and her siblings' lives, which has scattered away in different directions, afraid of each other's shadows.The narrative is emotionally-driven, dotted by Esme's recollection of her life with her sister before she was lost, trying to keep her memory alive. Maybe it's because I have a four-year-old niece named Lily that made this too heart-wrenching to read, all the while I couldn't possibly put it down without immediate closure.
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  • Tina Bailey
    January 1, 1970
    Really good story for the heart!So much goes on in this story with the interpersonal relationships within a family, both during normal times and times of shock, fear, and emotional pains. A family has a little girl go missing, and at some point that family must get to a new normal. It's a difficult journey of guilt and rebuilding relationships lost. Will they lose Lily forever? Can they hold together if so? A family in crisis. It's heartfelt, intriguing, and makes you think; what if that were ou Really good story for the heart!So much goes on in this story with the interpersonal relationships within a family, both during normal times and times of shock, fear, and emotional pains. A family has a little girl go missing, and at some point that family must get to a new normal. It's a difficult journey of guilt and rebuilding relationships lost. Will they lose Lily forever? Can they hold together if so? A family in crisis. It's heartfelt, intriguing, and makes you think; what if that were our family?
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  • Carolyn Strong
    January 1, 1970
    A few surprises This book was about a family who lost a 4 year old girl and how that affected different family members. A lot of the focus was on an older sister who found relief in her ballet performances. The plot was a little too predictable and depended a bit on your level of interest in the life of an aspiring ballerina. I wish there was more character development on the mother. I dare not say more or I’ll spoil the plot.
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  • Rosemary Dreyer
    January 1, 1970
    I’m rounding up from 3 3/4 Stars. This debut novel is good. What I liked: The tension in the plot; the characters; how ballet was Esme’s hope, challenge, and escape all in one. What I didn’t like: The ending should have stopped sooner. The ending she wrote was a little too pat. Overall, a good read.
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  • Jeanne Fleck
    January 1, 1970
    This book was amazing. I thought the writing was beautiful and exceptionally done. The trauma at the beginning of the story wove itself into the fabric of so many lives and emerged into a feeling of hope, also for so many. Aside from the obvious theme of trauma it enlightened the reader as to the world of ballet and the sacrifices of the dancers. This was a wonderful read.
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  • Julie McCloud
    January 1, 1970
    Confusing timelineThe book is broken into 3 parts - 1996, 2005, and Present Day. Given that this book was just published, one would assume that the story spans 20+ years but it seems like Present Day is shortly after 2005. I selected this book as my March FirstReads choice and I think the synopsis was a little misleading and overall the book was not what I was expecting.
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  • Christine Lowe
    January 1, 1970
    A Limit on the LightThis story allowed me into a world of what is and what could be. The writing evoked feelings of loss and wonder that the author could capture so much of what the dance world is like from the inside. The characters are lovingly crafted into complete people with feelings that are universal. A great debut for a talented young writer
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  • Carlynne
    January 1, 1970
    A sequel could finish this storyEnjoyed the weave of family relationships with the tough yet beautiful world of ballet. The protagonist was a very developed character, others a bit less so but it was HER story so that’s reasonable. I wanted to know more about Lily’s feelings at reunification but maybe when it’s herstory to tell—-
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  • gail lassiter
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting story with A surprise ending. Well written story depicting the changes a tragedy can and did affect a family. When a tragedy occurs, blame steals the close ties of any family. Humans are always looking for answers that seem always available in the world of hope.
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  • Christy Karl
    January 1, 1970
    A story of a little girl gone missing, and the continuance of her family’s life when she was gone. Very good debut novel for Kristin Fields. You developed relationships and feelings for the characters and you wanted to see what would happen next on their struggle to find a new normal.
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  • Claudia
    January 1, 1970
    Little Girl GoneI couldn’t put this read down. It took twists and turns like a roller coaster, and I loved the ride. It taught of human nature, sad living conditions, and more. It said that less can sometimes be more. Do read this book❣ Little Girl GoneI couldn’t put this read down. It took twists and turns like a roller coaster, and I loved the ride. It taught of human nature, sad living conditions, and more. It said that less can sometimes be more. Do read this book❣️
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  • Kim Cotter
    January 1, 1970
    Hard to put this one down. I loved the character development — how their thoughts and actions intertwined. The story line was believable, as we followed this family through its tragedy. Without supplying any spoilers, I will just say that it was a satisfying read.
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  • Mary Sue Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    Thought ProvokingImagine a four year old girl disappearing. What would this do to a family? This book examines this tragedy through the life is Esme during the next 8 years. This is about loss and how a family deals.
  • Melanie Weires
    January 1, 1970
    Decent read but repetitiveIt was a decent read but a bit slow and repetitive at times. I found myself skipping passages. I would have liked to have read more about what happens after the big event, especially with such a build up it felt like a bit of a lackluster finish.
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