The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

NECESSARY LIES By Diane Chamberlain

Necessary Lies by Diane ChamberlainPublisher:  St. Martin's Press
Release Date:  September 3, 2013
Pages:  352
Genre:  Historical Fiction

About the Book:  Bestselling author Diane Chamberlain delivers a breakout book about a small southern town fifty years ago, and the darkest—and most hopeful—places in the human heart

After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed.  She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients' lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband.  But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed.  Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.

Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy.  Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?

Wanda's Review:  The characters in this story are fictional, but the Eugenics Sterilization Program was not. This program was active from 1929-1975 in North Carolina. Over 7,000 citizens in North Carolina were sterilized. The program targeted the “mentally defective,” the “feebleminded,” inmates in mental institutions, those suffering with epilepsy, and others whose sterilization were considered “for the public good.”

Wow! What a powerful book! I became engrossed in this story from the beginning and never lost interest through the end. I was never aware of the Eugenics Program in North Carolina. Eugenics was about improving the human race --- weeding out negative traits and encouraging the positive. It reminded me of the turbulent time in history, Nazi, Germany, when Hitler tried to develop the perfect race. 

The character development was excellent, with an intense and heart-wrenching storyline. The story is about Mary Ella and Ivy Hart, who were raised by their grandmother, Nonnie, in a totally dysfunctional family. This is a book you will not forget --- a book with almost unbearable poignancy and one that will make your heart ache. 

The author shows the reader the facts by creating wonderful dialogue, and conveying the inner thoughts of Jane, Ivy and Mary Ella. I was totally drawn into their world as dark secrets are revealed throughout. 

Jane Forrester, a caseworker for the Department of Welfare, behaved in an unprofessional manner, getting too involved with her clients, losing her objectivity. She just couldn’t keep an emotional distance from the people she worked with. And the story unfolds as rules are broken and necessary lies are told, and Jane finds out the hard way that being a Social Worker is not at all what she expected.

This was my first time reading a book by Diane Chamberlain, but I’ll certainly be searching for more. Necessary Lies will be added to my “all time favorites” list.  5 stars to an incredible book!

Diane ChamberlainAbout the Author:  I'm the author of 23 novels published in more than twenty languages. I like to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of my books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, my stories usually feature a combination of suspense, mystery and intrigue. 

I live in North Carolina with my significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and my shelties, Keeper and Cole--the only non-reading members of the household!

Please visit my website and blog. I look forward to seeing you there!