REVIEW: With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel

SYNOPSIS: Grace Bradshaw knows the exact minute she will die. On death row for murdering her infant son, her last breath will be taken on February 15 at 12:01 a.m. Eleven years, five months, and twenty-seven days separate her from the last time she heard her precious daughter’s voice and the final moment she’d heard anyone call her Mom. Out of appeals, she can focus on only one thing—reconnecting with her daughter and making sure she knows the truth.

Secrets lurk behind Sophie Logan’s big house and even bigger bank account. Every day when she kisses her husband good-bye, she worries her fabricated life is about to come crumbling down. No one knows the unforgivable things her mother did to tear her family apart—not her husband, who is a prominent plastic surgeon, or her “synthetic” friends who live in her upscale neighborhood.

Grace’s looming execution date forces Sophie to revisit the traumatic events that haunted her childhood. When she returns to her hometown, she discovers new evidence about her baby brother William’s death seventeen years ago—proof that might set her mother free but shatter her marriage forever.

Sophie must quickly decide if her mother is the monster the prosecutor made her out to be or the loving mother she remembers—the one who painted her toenails glittery pink and plastered Post-it notes with inspiring quotes (“100 percent failure rate if you don't try”) all over Sophie’s bathroom mirror—before their time runs out.

GENRE: Fiction, Contemporary, Christian


RATING: ★★☆☆☆


I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

With Love from the Inside is abundant in grace but to my surprise, utterly devoid of grit. The synopsis is pregnant with promise, showering me with hope that this would be a page turning thriller that would keep me awake at night with thoughts reeling on monstrosities, tragedies, and dark deeds. Much to my chagrin, however, I quickly discovered that this novel was severely improperly categorized and belongs squarely in the genre of Christian Fiction.

Christian Fiction absolutely has a place in this world. I’ve nothing against the genre; it’s simply not my flavor of fictional fare. In point of fact, I believe that many readers will gush over this story.

Angela Pisel has writing chops. There is no doubt about that. There is beauty and tenderness in her epistolary style of recording Grace’s thoughts before her appointed execution date. Anyone can agree that the plot pacing was on point and the dialogue was well written. But where was all of the angst? Where was all of the raging against the circumstances? Where were the outbursts and the cries against the forces beating against the protagonists? I wanted to FEEL more. I kept waiting and wondering when the shit would hit the fan, when I would slam my fists against the book or when I’d sob at the cruelness and unfairness of it all. But this novel evoked none of the sort.

Throughout her time on death row, through her loneliness, through her loss, through her failed appeals, through her impending death, Grace manages. She handles her lot in life with grace, and love, and wisdom, and a ridiculously calm and accepting demeanor that honestly makes the character unbelievable and uninteresting. Grace’s faith made for one boring and disappointing book. All of the religious undertones felt so forced and crammed into an otherwise intriguing premise. Pisel uses the Christian faith in God as a crutch to carry her novel. In the end, her message seems to me to be “it’s okay because it was God’s will, and all is right in the world. Just love and have faith and accept whatever fate you’re dealt”. Thus, Grace and Sophie’s not so harrowing story fizzles out slowly, leaving the reader neither that upset or happy, or anything at all in particular.

With Love from the Inside is bland and stale, like too many crackers being shoved in a not so hungry face.


Review by Frankie Brazelton of Mudville Dames

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Thank you for reading!

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