NPJ Book Review: The Second Life of Mirielle West By Amanda Skenandore

Review by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Contributing Editor


The Second Life of Mireille West (2021) is an awe-inspiring summer read, based on what happened during the leprosy epidemic in the 1920’s, Louisiana. It is an historical novel based on a disturbing reality.

This is not the kind of book that has you racing through to find out what happens next. Rather, the author challenges you to think.  I found myself fascinated by each piece of a story that has been waiting to be told.  Each chapter reveals pieces of Mireille’s life, never fully allowing the reader to guess the outcome. I found it to be thought-provoking and unsettling, so much so that I needed time and space in-between to really absorb the issues raised.

A fine piece of writing, this is a story that has been waiting to be told.  It reminded me of a message in a bottle, and to question every unspoken answer of a time in the past.

I read this book with such earnestness and interest that it allowed my senses to become bewildered at times. This is not an easy book to read nor take lightly.  It is intense, beaming the many colors of a very epic time in the world we live in and will remain engraved in the reader’s mind.