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Once Upon a Lie

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  117 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Once Upon a Lie is about two strangers who become unlikely friends, only to unintentionally put each other's life in jeopardy. Jaleel Robeson, a gifted, eighteen year-old black man, falsely accused of murdering his father in a small Texas town, is on the run. He assumes a new identity in 1980s Los Angeles as a successful student on his way to college. Alexandra Baten, a re ...more
Paperback, 388 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by Terra Nova Books
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
" I look at my story as I look at history. In our ever-changing universe, lives collide, and, like runaway planets, we just keep going"

I received this free ebook in exchange for an honest review. So thank you so much.

Well, what can I say about this book without spoiling it? First of all, you all shall know that it's full of drama and so many twists and turns that i literally didn't see coming with through every single chapter.

I got into this book without knowing what was about, the only thing i
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it

Alexandra, a white girl living with her family in a very affluent area. Parents are wealthy, throw social parties at their lakeside house.

Jaleel, a black boy whose parents have been killed, wanted for a crime he didn't commit, living arrangements are in a squat.

Events bring these two different people together. Their backgrounds are poles apart, but they form a friendship based on trust and acceptance, not on their race, upbringing or financial status.

Alex has everything she wants, t
Jennifer Clausen-greene
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I have read by Mr. French, but I was impressed. The book is fast paced with elements of love and betrayal coupled with faith that held my interest till the end. The characters Alex and Jaleel, are complex and well written. I also really enjoyed some of the other many elements within the book that the author tackles such as social injustices and family dynamics.
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Right here was just what I have been needing the past week for a good read. Fast paced and never a dull moment. Easy to follow story line with amazing characters. Not sure if I want to classify it as a thriller or a mystery... But either way I loved this book!

*Received for an honest review*
Dawn Thomas
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Book Review: Once Upon A Lie by Michael French
Review by Dawn Thomas

388 Pages
Publisher: Terra Nova Books

Suspense, Murder, Legal, Trial, Family Dynamics

This is the story of Alexandra Baten and Jaleel Robeson. The book begins in the present time from Alex’s point of view. In the present time, she is working on a memoir but is having problems with the ending. She is meeting her mother for lunch and believes she cannot live up to her mother’s standards.

The story jumps to the past in the 1980s. Alex
Apr 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-read
This is the story of two teenagers from completely different backgrounds. The first is Jaleel, an African American from a small town who witnesses his father kill his mother and then himself. The police decide that Jaleel is the murderer and rather than trying to clear his name, he flees. He meets a man on the bus who helps him out, providing him a new identity so we can start a new life in LA. Jaleel is a smart kid with a knack for baseball, which allows him to carry on in school and get accept ...more
Amy Armstrong
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alex, a teen from a wealthy family in the Toluca Lake neighborhood of L.A. meets Jaleel, a poor African American boy, on the other side of Cahuenga Boulevard and is immediately fascinated by his independence, optimism and impeccable taste in literature. What she doesn't know is he is also wanted for a double murder in Peartree, TX (which he didn't commit.) Alex and Jaleel become fascinated with each other's worlds, but danger lurks beneath the surface for both of them. For Jaleel, it's being on ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Once Upon a Lie is a crime thriller by Michael French, but really it is so much more. It tells the story of Jaleel a young African-American man on the run from a tragedy in his home and his fear that he will be blamed for it. He flees to LA, and although he lives as a squatter, Jaleel has managed to make himself into a successful student and all-star baseball player. By chance, he meets Alex, a privileged white teenage girl from a posh suburban neighborhood, who seems to have it all, but she doe ...more
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was my first book by Michael French and it did not disappoint. I was lucky to be an early reviewer, and I have to say that this was some really superb storytelling.

Though I kept in recent times my reading to move light subjects, this was a drastic change for me though not uncommon and I could not believe how brilliant it was in that 80's american backdrop.

For the more in depth review:
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a good story and truly a page-turner! The characters are well drawn and complex; they are like people we know or have come across. I was lucky enough to have an advance copy and read it twice. It is that good. I highly recommend this book.
Marta Tandori
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Once Upon a Lie is a superbly-written coming of age novel by talented writer, Michael French, that chronicles the intersection and coupling of two young lives from opposite sides of the track.

The story begins with young Jaleel Robeson, a boy living a hardscrabble life in the small town of Peartree, Texas. Unlike many of his peers, Jaleel is a black boy who excels at everything he does and has high aspirations for himself, supported by a less-than-expressive father and doted upon by his proud mot
Jan Gerber
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Remembering his father, he knew at all costs to guard this paradise from his demons."
The quote, though purposely bearing a heavy biblical tone, is one of the protagonist's reflections that neatly mirror the realistic and disillusioned title of the book. Further, just as the two protagonists' lives unfold and converge in unexpected circumstances, they both seem unable to escape their families' and backgrounds' hold on them, while they never lose hope that one day they may free themselves.
In sho
Divya Mahajan
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Once Upon a Lie is beautiful story of love, courage, teen rebellion, betrayal, racism, injustice ; it does not fall under only one genre. Call it a crime novel or a social novel or a love story ; it is a beautiful mix of many emotions,
This is the story of Alexandra and Jaleel two teenagers from very different strata of social life; one is a privileged white kid and other a poor black wanted for murders he did not commit.

Their meeting is like "like planets colliding from different solar systems."
...more (Troy Johnson)
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Full of twists, turns and surprises, Once Upon a Lie will keep you guessing until the very end. Though readable and engaging, the real complexity and intricacy is in the telling of the stories and the rich multilayered and multi-dimensional characters that French handily delivers. Jaleel’s story, brilliantly highlights the often unrelenting pitfalls many black men face, in a country too often willing to punish them for simply living while black. And while the ending is in many ways as bleak you ...more
Ghassan Samaha
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Each word called on my nerves as my eyes scanned the pages with constant flow wondering when is the time to shed a tear or keep a smile. Comprehensive piece with complete story elements including a very strong PLOT that is looking simple while is sophisticated and feels endless when it is about to end...and the end by t whole is a story. Words or art explode in this novel, very impressed I am. Some stories you feel gets you to a higher ground. I say that truth is more than an magnet.
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Michael French has bitten off a mouthful in Once Upon a Lie. It would be easy to write a sweeping saga of one race's quest for equality and justice. Mr. French has taken the harder road, and told the simple story. And he has gotten me thinking about this issue more than I have in a long time.

Girl. Boy. White. Black. Two-parent family. Orphan. Rich. Desperately poor. Then there are the adults, who manage to mess up their lives and those of their children.

Alexandra has grown up never knowing want.
Adrienne Way
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cindy Roesel

"Discontent and violence lurks under the surface - when they erupt, no one is safe." Once Upon A LIE

as an writer and author, but ONCE UPON A LIE needed a really tough editor with a red sharpie.

Michael French tells the story of interracial love in the thought-provoking novel, ONCE UPON A LIE (Terra Nova Books) in the landscape of the 1980s. Two unlikely people are brought into each other's lives putting them in danger.

Jaleel is a bright black eighteen-year old. He's fled his small Texas town, fa
Casey Williams
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
' As small or large as your destiny might be, you alone were its driver.'

This story is about two young people who's lives went down hill and they are just trying to get it back on track and figure out their true selves and what they are made to do in life.

I went into this book blind not knowing much about it and what it was going to throw at me, but I was pleasantly surprised and loved it.

It's very hard not to give away any spoilers in this review but in this book we see the world through two
Gladinell Fuentes
I received this book for an honest review. Finally I made the time and read it. The book was not what I was expecting. As soon as I started reading it I was hook. The story goes from the present to the past and it ends in the present again. I love how the story never gets boring with unnecessary details. The characters in this book are unique, Alex and Jaleel are the main characters and let me tell you their lives are very complicated. For me Alex was the most honest of all the characters. Even ...more
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting story about how chance meetings can change someone's life.
Jaleel had a horrible childhood while Alexandra (Alex) was raised in luxury. They meet when 15 year old Alex rides her bike out of her rich neighborhood and comes upon 19 year old Jaleel. They seem to be pretty much complete opposites but are good for each other.

The main portion of the book takes place in the 1980s but we are brought forward so we're aware of where they ended up. I just finished this book today so I haven'
Sage Adderley-Knox
I read a lot of books and I can't remember the last time a book has left me with so many feelings. Michael French is a wonderful writer. I felt he really placed me into the scenes. I found myself cringing through some of the encounters Jaleel faced as a young black man. It hurt my heart. And while Alex comes from an extremely privileged family, I did like her very much. She maintained compassion and humility throughout the novel.

These two characters connect in a super emotional way. Through dram
Once Upon A Lie is about two young adults, Jaleel and Alexandra "Alex," and how their young love came to life. Both come from completely opposite lives. Alex has the perfect family facade, while Jaleel is an orphan. They face many emotions-betrayal, love, and courage.

Once Upon A Lie is absolutely amazing! I was faced with so many emotions involving both characters. I felt horrible about Jaleel's situation while shocked by Alex's. I couldn't get enough, each page pulled me deeper into their story
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. This is a unique story and a uniquely-written book. I haven't read anything quite like it. It felt like it was missing just a little something that kept it from being great instead of just very good, but I have no idea what that would be. All I can say is that I was engrossed from the very beginning and didn't want to put it down. Each character was complex and fascinating, yet also entirely believable. I loathed one female character so much that I wanted to slap her, but I see that a ...more
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

Absolutely stunning. This story is detailed and attentive to not only the characters but also the reader. Mr. French has woven together the lives of so many people and shown just how the surrounding we are born into and the interactions of child to parent and visa versa truly handicap our lives.

You, as the reader, will be tormented, amazed, and then confused, then think you have it all figured out but as the story moves from player to player, you will be w
Rebecca Parra
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book, Once Upon A Lie, reminded me a lot of Gone Girl but I honestly found it even more riveting, both with the plot twists (you will NOT be able to anticipate) and the depth and interactions of the characters. I read this in just four sittings, starting around midnight, after I put my two young children to bed. It is rare for me to find a book compelling enough to stay up late into the night reading, but I just couldn't put this book down! This book will make an incredible movie, but first ...more
Molly Golightly
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a ride! French is a fantastic story teller and has included everything I love about fiction in this tale; it has a layered plot with surprising turns, endearing characters, clever dialogue, and passages that made me laugh and points that made me think. "Once upon a Lie" deftly addresses race, class, relationships, and morality with a fast-moving narrative that grips you from the beginning to the end. I heartily recommend this gem of a book and can't wait to read more of French's work.

Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: goodreads
I received this book by entering a Goodreads drawing.

This is my first book by Mr. French and I was not disappointed. The writing was very good so the story was easy to get into and the character descriptions were clear and concise. I had no trouble getting into the story. I liked how the book was broken into Alex and Jaleel sections so the reader could keep up with what was happening to the main characters as the story progressed. The handling of the murder and the racial challenges of the 80's
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to get an advanced copy of the book and read it in two sittings. This is a fascinating page-turner. The complicated relationship between both characters is unpredictable. The elements of social injustice are realistic and gripping. Having read French's previous novel, The Reconstruction of Wilson Ryder, it too picks up on themes of families and difficult relationships in a very real and relatable fashion. Highly recommended. ...more
Marcia Kanarek
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I hadn't read anything by Michael R. French but I will read another in the future. The story keeps you turning the pages wanting to know how all the issues will be resolved.
Not sure if there really is anyone with as much insight as the young character, Alex, but I liked it!
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Goodreads reviewers 1 2 Sep 10, 2016 11:48AM  

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#1 Amazon best selling author Michael French graduated from Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is an avid high-altitude mountain trekker, as well as a collector of first editions of twentieth-century fiction.

He has published twenty-four books, including fiction, young a

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