Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.
Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.
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I found White Picket Fences to be a cautionary tale of what can happen to people when they don’t want to upset the status quo. People usually keep secrets because they don’t want to cause pain or unhappiness for themselves or others – but that can sometimes have the opposite effect.
Although I thought this was a quiet novel, it made me feel anything but quiet. The first half slowly unveiled a few secrets and then events occurred that set the plot in motion. I won’t reveal more except to say that the pace picked up and I read the second half of the book without stopping.
My favorite characters were the two gentlemen who told their stories to Tally and Chase. Not only did they share their Holocaust memories but they gave wise advice to the two teens that helped them make decisions regarding issues in their own lives.
Susan Meissner’s novel is a touching tale. I’m glad I read the book and recommend it to readers of Contemporary fiction and YA fiction. An interview with the author is included. White Picket Fences would be a good family book club selection.
You can get more information about White Picket Fences here.
Review copy provided by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group