Review: Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

Genre: Historical Fiction

Published: September 3, 2013

Hardcover, 368 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Goodreads book description:

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?

My Thoughts:

I initially decided to read this after a handful of people recommended it to me based on my love of historical fiction. I did enjoy reading this book, even though I would not put it in the category of one of my favorite books…but I’ll get into that in a bit.

Before reading this book, I had never heard of the Eugenics Sterilization Program of South Carolina. So, it was very interesting to read & learn a little bit about it though this novel. That part of the book was shocking and disturbing, to say the least. I will say that I don’t feel like the author used the atrocity of the program to over sensationalize the book (which she could have easily done).

The story and plot were both good for me. There wasn’t any point in this book in which I was bored or uninterested, so that is a plus. I do feel like the ending had a little bit of a “too perfect” wrap up, if that makes any sense.

My main complaint (and why I didn’t give this book 4 stars), was the characters. I didn’t actually like any of them, except Ivy.  Not even Jane, who is supposed to be the most likable, I assume. They all felt very flat and one dimensional to me.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read that I could easily recommend to others. While the subject matter had the possibility of being dark and heavy, this book didn’t go that route….so it’s always nice to have a “lighter” feeling read to recommend to others.




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