Wrighty's Reviews > White Picket Fences

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner
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's review
Oct 07, 2009

really liked it
Read in November, 2009

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 the girl stability and a shot at a “normal” life, even though their own storybook lives are about to crumble.
Seventeen-year-old Chase Janvier hasn’t seen his cousin in years, and other than a vague curiosity about her strange life, he doesn’t expect her arrival will affect him much–or interfere with his growing, disturbing interest in a long-ago house fire that plagues his dreams unbeknownst to anyone else.
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.
Will Tally’s presence blow apart their carefully-constructed world, knocking down the illusion of the white picket fence and reveal a hidden past that could destroy them all–or can she help them find the truth without losing each other?

My Thoughts

The first thing I noticed about this book was the cover with it’s seemingly idyllic picket fence that has a bit of peeling paint and a spider’s web. It’s not so perfect after all. And that’s how the author intended it. The Janviers appear to have the idyllic life with their beautiful home, wonderful children and great jobs but that proverbial white picket fence that surrounds it all and protects them also hides their secrets.

I was intrigued by this family right away. When their niece comes into their home it unintentionally upsets the delicate balance that they have maintained. There are several subplots that develop throughout the book as the different characters are introduced and their stories are told. Secrets and memories that have been dormant are brought to the surface and must now be dealt with. The individual stories eventually weave together and characters work to heal old wounds and make better choices. I enjoyed this story and think every reader can find something or someone to identify with. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

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