Monday, November 09, 2009

Book Review: "White Picket Fences" by Susan Meissner

When the storybook-perfect Janvier family temporarily "adopts" their teenaged niece, Tally, they assume they'll be helping her. But when Tally befriends her cousin, Chase, she soon realizes that he badly needs encouragement, too. When the troubled teens interview two holocaust survivors for a sociology project, will they trigger the healing process that everybody needs?

Susan Meissner is one of the most prolific authors that I have ever read. Whenever someone asks me to recommend a new author or some books to them, I ALWAYS include her on that list. Every single one of her books have been wonderful reads that are not only entertaining but though provoking and highly impacting. In fact, there have only been two books in the past five years that have made me actually cry: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner. That's who much her books have affected me. So as always I was beyond thrilled that she had a new book out.

This book has so much going on in it, many multiple story lines that one would think how in the world can they all possibly tie together? That's the beauty of Susan's writing, that not only do they tie together but they all need each other in order to portray the full depth of the entire story. Within this story you have: a daughter who's abandoned by her father, a wife and mother who's trying to make sure that her family keeps up their perfect appearance, a son who's trying to remember a horrific incident that happened when he was a child, and a family secret that has been kept hidden for over 60 years. I really like Tally and Chase. Not only do they get along well as cousins but they both try to help each other understand their past. By helping the other person rediscover their life, they are able to take a deeper look into their own soul. The Holocaust/Jewish story was extremely interesting and one I myself would like to delve in further. Amanda's story, while not as intriguing as Tally's and Chase's, is worth reading as well. Her attempts at keeping up the perfect family lifestyle doesn't go as plan, and neither does her relationships with her husband or male colleague.

I thought the cover of the book was absolutely perfect. There's that idealistic white fence which represents the perfect household, but the paint is peeling and there's a cobweb on it. It's so simplistic yet speaks a thousand words. I thought it was interesting that I felt that I kept wanting Tally's father to make an appearance in the story but he never does. It bothered me at first until I read the author interview which brings up this point and explains her choice to not put him in the book. I really like books that include those question/answer interviews in the back of the book so that the reader can automatically feel a sense of completion.

This book is another wonderful work of art from Susan Meissner and destined to be another highly recommended title. Honestly if you have not picked up any of her books before, you MUST. Seriously you will NOT be disappointed.

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner is published by Waterbrook (2009)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

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