Lifelike, by Sheila A. Nielson (YA paranormal)

Book cover of Lifelike, by Sheila A Nielson

“When tragedy strikes sixteen-year-old Wren’s family, she can’t see the point in starting over again, especially when her future seems so uncertain and her heart so heavy.

“After she is sent to stay with her favorite aunt, who lives in a doll museum, Wren quickly discovers two creepily lifelike dolls hidden inside the walls of the old house. Dolls that were created to look like two very real people—a dangerously handsome young man and his mysteriously beautiful fiancée—a young woman he supposedly murdered a few weeks before their wedding day.

“As Wren attempts to solve what really happened all those years ago—she begins to realize that not only are the dolls haunted—but one of them is dead set on making sure the truth will never be revealed. No matter the cost…”

Lifelike sucked me right in. It’s suspenseful, frightening, funny, and sweet, and Wren is so lifelike . . . . I absolutely love this little novel! Had I read it as a teen, it would have been one of my very favorite books, and I probably would have read it again and again.

Several years ago, in the first post I wrote about my weight loss journey, I said:

At first glance, the topic of losing weight has nothing to do with Zion. In my own life, however, my decades-long quest to lose weight has paralleled and strongly influenced my quest to attain Zion, both as an individual and in my relationship to the larger community. The reason for this is simple: If I want to become holy, my spirit needs to be in control of my body, and if I want to live a life consecrated to God, I need the physical and emotional strength and stamina to live a life of service.

Since writing that post, I’ve often thought about all of those people who, for whatever reason, don’t have the physical or mental ability to fully engage in life. Most of us have only to interact with a person in this situation to recognize the preciousness of that life and the power of that person’s personality and contribution. Lifelike not only showcases and celebrates such lives, it gives a speculative glimpse of the potential influence all of us will have in the postmortal realm.

As Wren pours her yearning and grief into playing a musical masterpiece on her violin, a vivid new understanding comes to her, giving her hope and a reason to make what little remains of her mortal life beautiful and productive:

I’d forgotten how the sadness and the happiness played against each other in “Pachelbel’s Cannon.” How perfectly those two emotions worked together, creating something greater than the sum of their separate parts.

Was the crippling sadness of my life nothing more than a mere ostinato in a much bigger symphony? Despite everything, was there still greater beauty and joy waiting ahead for me? How would I ever know when I’d long since given up trying to play my part?

Chapter 27

This reminds me of a quotation given by a leader of my church several years ago:

In the great Composer’s symphony, you have your own particular part to play—your own notes to sing. Fail to perform them, and with certainty the symphony will go on. But if you rise up and join the chorus and allow the power of God to work through you, you will see “the windows of heaven” open, and He will “pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” [Malachi 3:10]. Rise up to your true potential as a son of God, and you can be a force for good in your family, your home, your community, your nation, and indeed in the world.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Four Titles,” Conference, April 2013.

President Uchtdorf spoke specifically to the men of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but what he said applies to every single person who lives on this earth or did, and that beautiful fact sings through the pages of Lifelike.

The featured image “Mirror Lake” is Copyright © 2022 by Katherine Padilla.