Book Review: Between the Shadow and Lo

This is my review of the book Between the Shadow and Lo, by Lauren Sapala. It is available here, but please read the review before purchasing.

I’m not going to lie, this was a hard book to read, and it will not be for everybody. Don’t get me wrong, the writing and structure are well done, and the language easy to follow, but this book deals with some serious issues, including alcoholism, sex, and drugs, among other things. Not to mention the sheer rawness of emotion bleeding out of the pages, which was hard to take at times. If you can’t handle the ugly, human side of life, please walk away, now, and preserve your happy thoughts.

This book is nothing if not boldly honest, and if you open your mind to truly experience this character, the depth of her pain and anguish will seep into your bones and not let go until the very fragile, hopeful ending. The honesty, in my opinion, is worth the read.

In this book, you follow along inside the head of a young woman named Leah. From the very start, it’s apparent that she has a problem. At first, it seems as though her problem revolves around a breakup, which causes her drinking to rapidly increase over time. As her alcohol addiction takes hold, Leah’s own self-loathing reveals itself as the true problem, steadily pulling her under until all she can think about is escaping herself. For self-preservation, Leah’s mind creates Lo, an alter-ego that is willing to take over while Leah hides behind the veil of (un)consciousness. After witnessing many of her friends and acquaintances fall victim to their own addictions, Leah can’t help feeling alone and starved for meaning in her life. Is this really all there is? After all, she has—quite literally—lost everyone and everything in her life. Finally, hope comes to her in two parts. One, colored on cardstock, making her feel again for the first time in years. The other, a kindred spirit to let her know she isn’t alone anymore.

This description could never do the book justice. Lauren Sapala’s vivid words are above and beyond some of the best I’ve ever read, and even though I have never been an addict, I was able to understand it in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible.

If you want to get the full effect of this book, you have to be willing to feel the hate, depression, and distortion this character is going through. You have to take it for what it is, and accept Leah for who she is at the lowest period of her life.

There is no light reading here. You are all in, or all out. Red pill or blue?

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