Publisher's Summary:Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.
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.
Readers of emotional dramas that are willing to explore the lies that families tell each other for protection and comfort will love White Picket Fences. The novel is ideal for those who appreciate exploring questions like: what type of honesty do children need from their parents, or how can one move beyond a past that isn’t acknowledged or understood? Is there hope and forgiveness for the tragedies of our past and a way to abundant grace?
Susan Meissner cannot remember a time when she wasn’t driven to put her thoughts down on paper. Her novel The Shape of Mercy was a Publishers Weekly pick for best religious fiction of 2008 and a Christian Book Award finalist. Susan and her husband live in Southern California, where he is a pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. They are the parents of four grown children.
My Thoughts:What family does not harbour some kind of secret out of their past? And how many of us try to give the illusion of the perfect, happy family living behind the white picket fence even as we struggle inside. I found this book touching and thought-provoking and hard to put down. The story is written beautifully and with sensitivity. Each character is developed well and I could feel for what each one of them was going through. I also was really touched by the Holocaust story and how it affected the lives of the teenagers as they talked to the survivors. But I think what struck me most was the way in which Amanda and Neil each handled the family secret. A story well worth reading. This is a keeper for my book shelf as I'm sure I'll be reading it again!
White Picket Fences is available through Random House here.