Okay, I had never read anything by this author before this, and I seriously didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did.
This is definitely the best book I’ve read so far in 2020.
In fact, this is one of the best books I have ever read.
I borrowed it on a whim on Kindle Prime Reading (and I borrowed it a few weeks ago and forgot about it actually until I saw it on there and decided to give it a try. Before I knew it, I was like 40% done with the book and it was one in the morning.
Phantom Limb is a book with a lot of trigger warnings. In fact, the author is kind enough to point that out in the beginning of her book, before the story even begins. There are triggers for abuse, rape, eating disorders, and self-harm.
I always find it important to talk about trigger warnings in books I’m reviewing. It’s important to help out someone who may find themselves triggered from things they read, which can lead them down a negative path or even have them relapse from something that they have recovered from. I can honestly say that books involving self-harm such as cutting are usually something I try to avoid, and while I decided to look past that this time and read this book anyway, it was a definitely a difficult read.
Now that I’ve given you a warning of what lies ahead in this book, let’s get into the story a little bit more.
Elizabeth and Emily are identical twins who have had a harsh upbringing – from being locked in a room alone until they were five years old, to being abused both physically and sexually as children. These conditions lead them to be closer than anything – the two of them have always been inseparable, even as adults.
Now, out of high school and into college and holding down a job, Elizabeth and Emily live together in a small apartment that they are happy to call home. Emily stays at home all day every day – she is too depressed and miserable to leave the apartment, and the only consolation that she gets is from Elizabeth when she is home.
“Emily and I were like two bodies who shared one soul, and I didn’t know how you were supposed to give up your soul.”
Emily has always been a cutter, and it seems to be getting worse the older she gets. Elizabeth is used to her depressive episodes in which she cuts herself, and has always been there to help clean her up and put her back together.
One night, after Emily tracks down Elizabeth’s boyfriend and says horrible things about Elizabeth to get him to break up with her, Elizabeth decides that she has had enough. The girls have a fight, and Elizabeth falls asleep on the couch – only to wake up to find Emily dead on the bathroom floor.
“My twin was dead, which meant I was only half-alive, and the intensity of the loss screamed at me, shattering every wall I’d built over the years to keep myself strong. The space she occupied within me was immense and limitless, and the loss of her left an empty, aching void inside of me that could never be replaced with anyone else’s love.”
The next week Elizabeth wakes up in the hospital and is completely confused by everything going on. Why is she here? What happened? How can she ever possibly live without her twin sister, the one she shares a soul with? Of course, she has no idea what happened – only that she found her sister dead and having no desire to continue living without her.
“For the first time ever, I understood why Emily spent so much time sleeping. It was the closest you could get to death without physically dying.”
After she wakes up in the hospital, she is transferred to the psychiatric ward, where she thinks she will have to live out a 72-hour hold before she can go home – during which time she plans to kill herself once she gets out of the hospital so she can be buried alongside Emily, and the two can be together forever.
“Emily and I were each other’s life support. My purpose in life was to take care of her and keep her safe. It always had been.”
While in the psychiatric ward, Elizabeth befriends a girl suffering from Anorexia, and the two soon become incredibly close. The other people in the ward aren’t really that friendly toward her, and some even frighten her. The thing that frightens her most, however, is the therapy team that keeps trying to get Elizabeth to open up about her childhood and her past – which is something she never wants to talk about. But in order to get out of there, she has to come to terms with the fact that there could be something much deeper going on in her mind…
Phantom Limb of course had a twist that I was able to guess from hints thrown around here and there, but the ending of this had another twist that I NEVER saw coming. I was totally floored when I read the ending of this book, and I have to say – well done – a definite round of applause for Lucinda Berry.
This was such a difficult book to read.
All of the triggering themes that this book carries can make it really hard for some to enjoy, I’m sure. It was one of the hardest books I’ve ever read, but it was also one of the best books I’ve ever read.
The main character, Elizabeth, and her sister Emily, were written in such a way that really drew me to them. Elizabeth was just perfect – she was flawed, emotional, and had so much development throughout the novel. She wasn’t this perfect cookie-cutter character like so many others are, and I absolutely adored it.
The twist at the end was completely surprising and I can’t remember the last time I loved an ending of a book the way I loved this one. I would be completely over the moon if there was a sequel to this someday.
It might not seem like a psychological thriller from the synopsis and the way I’ve reviewed it here, but the thriller aspect of it is something you can’t really give away without spoiling any parts of the story, so I won’t. Just believe me that it truly lives up to its genre, and will have you gripping the edge of your seat to figure out exactly what is going on throughout the whole freaking book.
This is not a book to be missed if you are able to read it despite the trigger warnings. I rarely give a book five stars, because it really has to resonate with me – I have to feel emotions, love the characters, and be completely shocked by twists. This book has everything I could have asked for.
I adore discovering new authors. I cannot wait to go on and read the rest of her books now!