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White Picket Fences

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,759 ratings  ·  215 reviews
When her black sheep brother disappears, Amanda Janvier eagerly takes in her sixteen year-old niece Tally. The girl is practically an orphan: motherless, and living with a father who raises Tally wherever he lands? in a Buick, a pizza joint, a horse farm?and regularly takes off on wild schemes. Amanda envisions that she, her husband Neil, and their two teenagers can offer ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Waterbrook Press (first published September 25th 2009)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,759 ratings  ·  215 reviews

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Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked this book well enough, but was drawn more to the subplot than the ongoing saga of the protagonist's utterly dysfunctional family. In fact, I wished that more had been discussed about the two Holocaust survivors who were sent to concentration camps in Poland because of their participation of successfully rescuing babies from the Jewish ghettos. That story was both fascinating and eye-opening to me. The rest of the book could have been somewhat shortened if the Janvier family could have ce ...more
Judy Churchill
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Engrossing and enlightening, this book weaves the story of a contemporary family in emotional crisis with WWII tales of Nazi capture, escape and death. The author who believes all things turn around human relationships, takes a teenager's early trauma where he is desperately trying to remember key events, and introduces the family to two rest home residents who survived the concentration camp of Treblenka. These men, now in their nineties, express the concept of remembering as a function of need ...more
Deborah Malone
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I won "White Picket Fences" quite a while back from another blog giveaway. I have to admit I had so many books to read that this one went into my "to be read pile" where it stayed for quite a while. The other day I was looking through those books for my next read. For some reason this one caught my eye. I really had no idea what the genre was or what the book was about. I just started reading.

The protagonists were three cousins as well as a friend to one of them. When I first started reading I t
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Eloquent, touching, and as always with Meissner, the ability to tap into true thoughts and feelings and portray them sensitively. She does "real" well.
Jun 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I especially liked the two main characters in this novel - teen-aged cousins grappling with what to do regarding their secrets and their memories. I also liked that, although this is "Christian fiction," it was not "obviously" and in-your-face Christian. There were moments where you saw the family's faith and values impacting their thinking; there were other times when you didn't see Jesus reflected in their lives. Sort of like reality, right?! I liked this book, enough to try some other books b ...more
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
White Picket Fences (2009)
• by Susan Meissner

A story about a treasure hunt in Warsaw, the gold and jewelry a Jewish family hid from the Nazis about 70 years ago and two aging Holocaust Survivors living in a San Diego nursing home (2008). Eliasz was born blind and Josef longs to know what happened to his love Katrine. And a child pyromaniac who has his mother worried. He's obsessed with the flame and even named it Ghost and has been collecting lighters and matchbooks. It's been 13 years since he
Carleene  Hibbs Reeder
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am such a fan of Susan Meissner. I have only read 4 of her books but look forward to reading each and every one that she has written and will write. She is an auto buy author for me. I love the way she weaves two stories from two different time periods together. I also love anything that has to do with WWII and many of the books I have read from her do just that. I also just find her writing to be so easy to read. She has a way of captivating you and drawing you into the lives of her character ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like Meissner's books. This one was good. But it wasn't my favorite of her books. I almost felt like there was too much going on. I also got a bit annoyed with the Amanda character. I wanted to have the two old men's stories developed more. All that said still a good book, just not one of my favorites of hers.

Content: clean, no language. It does deal with the holocaust subject matter, death, and a struggling marriage.
Lisa  Keegan
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I found the stories far fetched but I do love her books
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book at the library in a last minute attempt to find something to read. Recently I read Secrets of a Charmed Life and loved it! So I thought I would try another book by the same author.

This book, however, fell short for me. The characters and dialogue seemed a bit off and the main storyline wasn't compelling. There were also some character connections that were a stretch to believe.

I did enjoy the parts about the Warsaw Ghettos and longed for more of those stories instead of t
Kelly Veatch
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not my favorite of Meissner's books....but I did like it.
Rhonda Ruff
Oct 11, 2016 rated it liked it
I really like Susan Meissners books You can see that from my past reviews. Although this one was good it didnt keep me wanting to come back to it I felt they should have developed one of the stories more and one less lol That being said still a good book just not one of my favorites
Sarah Sundin
Dec 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Meissner once again skillfully weaves together contemporary and historical storylines. Her characters are complex and engaging, and her writing is beautiful.
Maria ( ZITA ) Silva
This was a quick read, not bad either, kind of sad, but would still recommend it
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book and it held my attention throughout, no slow parts. I liked the way they merged the stories of the Holocaust survivors and the main story. Truly enjoyable book.
Donna Barnes
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite books of all time is Meissner's "Fall of the Marigolds" so I have been trying to read all of her books, and this one I was able to find in the audio version, and I'm glad I read it. Unlike "Fall of the Marigolds," this is one straight narrative, and It was easy to listen to --- it deals with Amanda, whose estranged brother doesn't come back for his mother-in-law's funeral --- he had left his daughter with the woman while he left the country -- his sister and her family (two ki ...more
rhonda  granquist
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I did like this is not my favorite by her, so far. Amanda and Neil have the perfect life in a nice home, with two great kids, good jobs, no problems. One day Amanda gets a call from a social worker in Tucson saying that Amanda's brother, Bart, has left his daughter tally, with Amanda and Barts mother. Bart has gone off and doesn't know when he'll be
In the meantime grandma has died and tally is basically homeless so Amanda and her husband are flying out and take Tally home with them to Cali
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Decent premise and Meissner is a talented writer, but this isn’t so much a story about coming to terms about a family’s past during WWII as it is a morality tale with heavy Christian themes. It annoyed me that it was taken for granted that the Christian truth was the only truth and all of the POV characters were into prayer and church with no doubt or questions. I don’t mind Christian characters. Jennifer Mathieu’s Devoted is one of my top books. But to have no different point of view made the c ...more
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
So many things happening in this book - Tally's grandmother has died and her father is out of the country where she can't reach him, Amanda's family looks perfect but has a secret they are trying to keep buried, and there are two older Polish men who survived the concentration camps. The latter story was actually the most interesting, but I was connected enough to the other characters to care what was happening with them. Granted so much of the book could have been solved if people would only ta ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, mystery
Tally's father leaves her with her grandmother while he goes to Poland, but unfortunately her grandma dies. Tally's aunt, Amanda is called to take her niece. Tally comes to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin, Chase. At school Tally and Chase are in the same class. They must work on a project. The project they decide on is to interview two old men who lived through the Holocaust. Chase is haunted by a fire that happened when he was 4 years old. In Poland Tally's father is looking for a treasur ...more
Bonnie Caldwell
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Susan Meissner has a way of reaching in and pulling out thoughts about subjects you didn't know you had feelings about! Every book I've read of hers gives you something to think about.
White Picket Fences, I thought, started out a little mundane, and I remember thinking, "This isn't like an SM book." Well, it got good. There are 2 or three things going on that demand your attention! Teenager feelings and troubles, parenting and marriage concerns, and then surprisingly, a bond to WWII happenings i
Joanne Payling
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Satisfying Read

Meissner is a beautifully descriptive writer. She paints a scene with every detail. This novel was satisfying. It wove a contemporary story with memories from the past and by the end everything dovetailed well. The only reason I didn't give five stars is because I found it somewhat unbelievable that neither parents nor son ever discussed the fire. It is hard for me to imagine something so crucial in a child's life being ignored.
Debbie Gatacre
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book fell short for me. It could have been so great! I liked a few parts of this book A lot, but the main family portrayal was just annoying and a
Waste of the authors talent. She could have stuck with the 2 old men and the connection with the teen Agers school project and how it brought the story of the many babies that were smuggled to safety during the Haulicaust . Such an interesting but small part of this book.
Sydney Long
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
A book to me is outstanding when the author can weave stories and lessons from the past within the lives of people today. We can learn so much about hope, dreams, choices, memories, survival, bravery and even secrets. White Picket Fences was a beautiful story. There were many different sides to it but without giving away the ending, they all fell into place beautifully and connected and reconnected family and friends to one another! Definitely a must read!
As much as I enjoyed Secrets of a Charmed Life, this novel didn't speak to me. I can't put a finger on why I thought it was simply okay. I suspect it had something to do with the story's sub-plot with the Warsaw Ghetto being too unlikely; not to mention, with the exception of Tally, I just didn't like the characters.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
good story line but not as good as her other books. Maybe because I've found the rest of her books to be 4.5-5 star, the bar was too high. I liked Chase and Tally - the holocaust survivors story and the video Matt, Chase & Tally were making was incredibly interesting. Did not care at all for Neil, Amanda or Delcey - their characters were more annoying than interesting.
Well I finally came upon a Susan Meissner book that did not thrill me...White Picket Fences.

It was overly dramatic for me and definitely way too descriptive. I think she was told to fill up some more pages. And even the story was sort of "blah". I kept reading hoping it would get better but alas, for me, it did not. (but I did finish it!)

But she is still one of my favorite authors!
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Awesome book combining the historic tragedy and current family dynamics. Pain has common threads, no matter the source or time. The characters in this book all grew to a greater understanding of that, and how important it is to keep talking and being open and honest. We can’t hide from pain, but there can be beauty on the other side.
Kitty Tomlinson
The Janvier family seems to have it all, but underneath the beautiful facade, problems lurk. Amanada, the mom, agrees to take in her niece, Tally, when her brother goes MIA in Poland. Tensions bubble to the surface when teen-aged Chase begins to remember a fire that occurred when he was 4 years old.
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
A teenager, Tally, goes to live with her aunt and uncle and cousins only to find that their seemingly perfect life has plenty of issues. Her cousin is repressing traumatic childhood memories and her aunt and uncles marriage is on the rocks. There’s also a weird WWII sub plot. The whole thing is disjointed but not totally bad. I like how they focus on saving their marriage.
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Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses.
Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When sh

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