Necessary Lies: Book summary and reviews of Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

Necessary Lies

by Diane Chamberlain

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain X
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2013
    352 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

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?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This engrossing novel digs deep into the moral complexity of a dark period in history and brings it to life." - Publishers Weekly

"Chamberlain brings to light the horrors inflicted for years on victims of the eugenics sterilization program...This is a troubling account, considering how recently involuntary sterilization occurred in this country." - Library Journal

"Chamberlain certainly knows how to escalate tension. Socially conscious melodrama at its best." - Kirkus Reviews

"This enthralling novel transfixed me from the very first pages." - Christina Schwarz, New York Times bestselling author of Drowning Ruth

"Expertly intertwines history and matters of the heart - love, loyalty and choosing what is right, no matter the consequences." - Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and One Breath Away

"Diane Chamberlain's Necessary Lies is the most important book she has ever written." - Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times bestselling author of Porch Lights

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Reader Reviews

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Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
"Ivy and Mary was here."

Those words are the beginning, the ending, and the basis of NECESSARY LIES. Those five words go full circle in this incredible, haunting book.

You will be transported to another world as you read NECESSARY LIES. A world of poverty and illiteracy as well as pity for the way the families had to live.

Jane, a physician's wife, was the new social worker dealing with the Hart and Jordan families. The families worked on a farm owned by Mr. Gardiner who had connections with both families - connections that were not on the up and up. The Hart girls, Ivy and Mary Ella, were the biggest problems for the family and definitely the social worker. Together each family told a lot of secrets and "necessary lies" to the social worker.

The book's characters were genuine and will tug at your emotions. One thing after another happens to the family, and the social worker gets drawn into the family's plight even though the social services agency told her some of things she was doing for the family were not acceptable.

The book flowed very nicely and was divided into chapters told in the voice of the main characters. You will become attached to the characters as I did and will be staying up late to "turn the pages" of this well-researched and beautifully written, poignant book based on a true program implemented in North Carolina.

NECESSARY LIES is the perfect title because lies were necessary for the characters to survive. It is heart wrenching yet informative as you follow the characters through their inadequate, restricted days. I thoroughly enjoyed this insightful, sensitive first book I have read by Diane Chamerblain. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Kelli Robinson

Eugenics in 1960s North Carolina
This was my first Diane Chamberlain book but was just OK for me. I was drawn to the book because it was set in the 1960s in North Carolina (southern fiction is one of my favorite genres) and involved the controversial Eugenics Board of North Carolina. I agree with others that the book was easy to read and moved along at a good clip, but I struggled to connect with the characters and the plausibility of the story. I know that the Eugenics Board existed - in fact North Carolina is just now in the process of making compensation payments to victims of its forced sterilization program. I also know now (after doing some research post-reading) that North Carolina was the only state that allowed social workers to designate people for sterilization. Hence, I can see why Ms. Chamberlain, as a former social worker, was drawn to writing this untold story. I just felt there was some character development lacking. Instead, I walked away from this book better educated by the crazy world around us (which is a good thing) but not necessarily emotionally touched. I hope to try another Diane Chamberlain novel in the future.

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Author Information

Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain is the bestselling author of twenty-one novels published in more than eleven languages. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her shelties, Keeper and Cole.

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