Book Buzz: With Love From the Inside

Words fail me, except for OMG, WTF and whatever other net-centric acronyms exist to express shock.

Book Buzz: With Love From the Inside

If I could insert a shocked face emoticon, I would, flummoxed as I am by With Love From the Inside, the page-turning debut novel written by Angela Pisel.

With Love From the Inside

This novel, about the relationship between a mother on death row and her estranged daughter, packs a punch.

Grace Bradshaw was convicted of killing her infant son William. The charge was murder by Munchausen by proxy. With traces of poison found in his formula bottles, it appeared to be an open and shut case. Despite Grace’s protests of innocence, the evidence was irrefutable and she was sentenced to death.

It was a horrific case, to say the least. Understandably, her daughter Sophie, 12 years old at the time of the trial, was traumatized. The death of her brother had been tragic enough, but now her mother, from whom she had only known love, was apparently a monster.

Sophie continued to live with her father but after he died she moved away and tried to erase her family history forever. When asked, she said that her mother died of cancer years ago.

She never wanted to see her mother again.

When the story begins, Sophie is now in her late twenties and married. Her husband and his family know nothing about her background. She has managed to keep her secrets so far, but she is tormented by thoughts of her mother in prison.

With Love From the Inside is recounted from two points of view. As Sophie tells her story from the outside, Grace tells hers from her prison cell. With all appeals exhausted, there is seemingly nothing that can save her. She keeps a journal which allows her to “talk” to Sophie because she despairs of ever seeing her again. She wants to make sure that once she is gone Sophie will have this journal and will finally know how she felt about her daughter, the baby who died, and her experiences in jail.

In researching this book, author Pisel interviewed many women on death row, and her sensitivity to their plight illuminates the story. The descriptions of life in jail are stark and real: prison guards both sympathetic and cruel, rigidity of rules, tensions between inmates, the constant dehumanization.

Grace clings to hope for a reconciliation with her daughter as the clock ticks closer to the date of her execution. She begs her defender to find Sophie. And eventually he does.

But will Sophie want to see her mother?

Sophie struggles with two conflicting thoughts. Is her mother the personification of evil, as she has believed all this time? Or was something overlooked, something that could exonerate her mother and end this nightmare? Memories from childhood, repressed for so long, now reemerge, reminding her of the loving mother and happy family she once had.

This is an emotional and intense read, and the pace quickens in the last few chapters. It is also an indictment of our flawed justice system, in which too many innocent people have fallen through the cracks.

Will that happen to Grace? You’ll have to read the book to find out.


One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of With Love From the Inside. Please leave a comment and a winner will be randomly selected. USA addresses only, please.


I received a copy of With Love From the Inside from Putnam for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

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35 Thoughts on “Book Buzz: With Love From the Inside

  1. Definitely on my list.

  2. You’ve definitely built the suspense. I’m putting this on my wish list because i have too many books stacked up right now! Thank you, though!

  3. Great review…it made me want to know more!

  4. You have me intrigued, Helene. I will be adding this book to my long list of “must read”.

  5. Allison on August 16, 2016 at 11:18 am said:

    This sounds like the kind of book I would love!

  6. Wow this sounds really interesting, not a light summer read but a good dig in read.

  7. I have always been fascinated by the condition Manchausen by Proxy and have seen films about it many times. But a novel? Fascinating. This is definitely going on my to read list. And I admire the author who interviewed women in prison–not an easy thing to do.

  8. I have also been fascinated by women who intentionally turn their children into invalids, or worse…this sounds like something I would really want to read. I met a woman not long ago whose daughter was serving a life sentence. She’s been trying to write about it, but it’s been a struggle. It got me thinking, though. This book sounds like a very good read indeed!

  9. Talk about high stakes. This sounds like a fascinating character study.

  10. You really wonder how children like Sophie get through all the trauma and come out okay in the end. Sounds like an interesting read for sure.

  11. You have me hooked! Off to my Kindle!

  12. Thank you Helene for reviewing a book which sounds very interesting and deep. I do love a ‘summer holiday’ read where you don’t have to really think about it but I also enjoy books like this that do make you think and has a bit more of a deeper and fascinating storyline. Definitely one for the list thanks!

  13. This sounds like a really unique and emotional story. Can’t wait to read it.

  14. I definitely HAVE to read this one. As a survivor of Munchausen by Proxy Medical Abuse it will undoubtedly be a difficult read for me, but I do stay up on the latest cultural interpretations of good and bad mother imagery, mentions of medical child abuse, and how people are interpreting it all. Some day I hope you can review my memoir when I find a publisher and my take on the whole enchilada sees print.

  15. This sounds really really good!! I can imagine the emotional journey of both women through this story. Wow

  16. Normally I wouldn’t read a book like this but I have to admit it sounds intriguing and I just added it to my wish list! Can’t wait to pick it up for myself.

  17. This sounds like a heart-stirring read. The relationship between a parent and child is complicated enough without so many other complications. I’m eager to read to see how it was resolved.

  18. Sounds like an interesting read. I have been watching the female prison shows on TV. Orange is the New Black…but the best is Wentworth!! They do have a different life.

  19. I will be the first to say that I am not big on books or book reviews, but honestly this story sounds pretty gripping. I like that it is told from two perspectives and I am very into law type shows and stories so I am sure I could get into this

  20. Wow! This looks like a terrific read. I’m glad you reviewed to because I’m not sure I would’ve tried out this book because of the heavy subject matter. Thanks for the share.

  21. I need a good book to read. Sounds like an interesting read that I would enjoy.

  22. Oh wow, the protagonists sound super fascinating. Grace’s story would be interesting to follow.

  23. Polly Watson on August 18, 2016 at 5:06 pm said:


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