White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner is a powerful novel about how the past shapes the future. Amanda Janvier gets more than she expected when she allows her niece, Tally, to stay with her family after her brother/Tally's father disappears. Amanda has worked hard to keep up the illusion of the perfect family, but Tally's arrival exposes the cracks in the foundations, and a school project between Tally and Amanda's son Chase brings up long hidden secrets and wounds which will leave them all permanently changed. Meissner's books are lyrical and haunting telling truths about the present by creating parallels in the past. With fully-fleshed characters and realistic dialogue, her stories captivate both the reader's heart and mind.
I really liked Susan's book, "The Shape of Mercy" but it raises the bar awfully high for any future books she has come out. She does not disappoint. In White Picket Fences we meet Neil and Amanda and their kids Chase and D who live the perfect life in a house with a white picket fence. They take in Amanda's niece, Tally, when her dad disappears. Tally turns the family life upside down (not intentionally) by befriending Chase and all kinds of issues arise to the surface. Is Neil and Amanda's perfect marriage really perfect? What really happened when Chase was in a fire at age 4? Why is Tally's dad in Europe when his daughter needs him?Chase and Tally have a school project that leads them to interview two old men at a nursing home that survived Treblinka during the Holocaust. This opens doors to the past that no one new existed. Susan Meissner has a gift for bringing the past to the present in an inspiring way. She does it again in this book and I loved it! Secrets are exposed, mysteries unravel and darkness comes to light in "White Picket Fences".
This was my first book I've read by this author. I really enjoyed it. The overall theme is honesty. What happens when you think you are protecting someone and are forced to either lie or just not talk about it? The proverbial white elephant in the room? Overall it was a good book. I felt the ending left a few things hanging but I liked it. Very enjoyable and got me thinking.
Even as I write this, I cannot believe Im saying this. Now, I read Susan Meissners last book, The Shape of Mercy and really loved it. It is one of my favorite books. I never thought she could top that book, but she did. White Picket Fences was extraordinary. I was so engrossed in the story and the characters, the pages just flew by. Ms. Meissner has a knack for bringing a historical event into the present day story, and the two flow seamlessly. This book really brings to life the horror of the holocaust and those terrifying times for the victims. It is a period in human history that should never be forgotten (or denied by crazies). There was a lot of information I never knew about the holocaust included in this story, which made this book very educational as well as spiritually uplifting. The present day story of the Janvier family deals with issues that many families today deal with. Looks can be deceiving and we all try to hide behind our own white picket fences so the rest of the world will not discover our secrets. White Picket Fences is a tremendous book and very well written. It is a bit heavy, but not overwhelming. Susan Meissner has amazed me yet again and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.
When I heard about this new novel from Susan Meissner, I was extremely excited because to me "The Shape of Mercy" is now a classic that all students who study the Crucible should also have to read. While "White Picket Fences" is a completely different type of book it is still incredible writing. For me, I would not necessarily call it a favorite, but overall as a whole (redundant I know, but making a point here) I enjoyed it. Looking at the cover of this book tells you the most of what you need to know. There is the white picket fence slats and then a spiders web weaving it's way right in. Perfectionism would make one want to get rid of the web and go back to perfection, but the artistic persona would believe that the web was part of the whole picture that made it a different kind of perfect. Really, this cover could not be more appropriate for the message within the story.There were times while reading that I was just ready for something to happen. While there are some action events in this novel that is not the type of novel that it is. This book is more about the inner part of a person and how things change and affect it. It is incredible the way that Susan writes and she can really get to you as a reader and challenge your own emotions and the way that you see things in your own life. So many people try to live the life of perfection and it is interesting how they react when things do not quite pan out that way. The questions and changes to the lives of the characters is not what one would expect after reading the book blurb or hearing a summary. There are psychological elements here and they are barely touched upon in the writing, but present non the less.I personally, put this book on the keeper shelf, but recommend that when you read it to have some time available so that you can mull over just what it is that you should take from reading the novel.