Cover image for Necessary Lies
Necessary Lies
Physical Description:
384 p. ;

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R.H. Stafford Library (Woodbury)1On Order
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Bestselling author Diane Chamberlain delivers Necessary Lies , a breakout book about a small southern town fifty years ago, and the darkest--and most hopeful--places in the human heart, in this specially priced edition...

Author Notes

Diane Chamberlain is an American author of adult fiction. Prior to her writing career, she was a psychotherapist in private practice in Virginia, working primarily with adolescents. Among her works are: Secrets She Left Behind, The Lost Daughter, Before the Storm, The Bay at Midnight, The Lies We Told, The Midwife's Confession, and Necessary Lies.

Diane's novel, The Secret Sister, became a New York Times bestseller in 2016.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this heart-wrenching historical fiction, prolific author Chamberlain focuses on a time in North Carolina's history that most people would rather forget. It's 1960, and Jane is a 21-year-old newlywed who's just accepted a job as a social worker, though her husband, Robert, would rather she stay home like the other country club wives. Her clients-poor tobacco farmers in Grace County, like the Hart family-live in the harsh reality of the rural South, with too many mouths to feed and not much to feed them. Jane is eager to help, until she discovers that part of her job is deciding whether young girls like the vivacious Ivy Hart should be sterilized, in order to keep them from having babies that depend on the state. A captivating look at the little-discussed eugenics program that was responsible for sterilizing more than 7,000 American citizens-some without their knowledge-this engrossing novel digs deep into the moral complexity of a dark period in history and brings it to life. Agent: Susan Ginsburg, Writers House. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

An idealistic North Carolina social worker defies her employers to save impoverished children from overzealous social engineering in Chamberlain's well-researched page-turner. Chamberlain's author's notes point out that from 1929 to 1975, North Carolina's state-fostered Eugenics Sterilization Program sterilized thousands of women and men. Her novel, set in 1960, examines the impact of such interventions on a tiny, almost feudal enclave of tobacco farmers. Two narrators represent opposite poles of Southern society. Against the wishes of her doctor husband, Jane Forrester, a recent college graduate, has taken a job in Raleigh with the Department of Public Welfare. Ivy Hart, 15, is struggling to keep what is left of her family intact. Her father, Percy, was killed in an agricultural accident. Davison Gardiner, who owns the farm where the white Harts, and their black neighbors, the Jordans, live and work, allows Ivy, her diabetic grandmother, and her beautiful and mentally challenged sister, Mary Ella, to continue occupying their shack rent-free. Gardiner regularly supplements their paltry wages (and welfare checks) with food donations, presumably out of guilt over Percy's accident, although Ivy's mother, who is institutionalized, scarred Gardiner's wife in a fit of rage and grief. As the Harts' newest caseworker, Jane soon finds herself in an ethical quagmire. At DPW's instigation, Mary Ella, mother of 2-year-old William (father unknown), was involuntarily sterilized in the hospital after his birth. Ivy is sneaking out at night to meet Gardiner's son, Henry Allen. By the time Jane realizes that Ivy is several months pregnant, she has succumbed to departmental pressure to petition for Ivy's sterilization on the grounds of childhood epilepsy and low IQ. Once Ivy delivers her child, she will suffer the same fate as her sister, unless Jane is willing to buck the system at the expense of her career. The stakes mount to dizzying heights (even for such an isolated pocket, Gardiner's unbridled sway over his tenants seems extreme); Chamberlain certainly knows how to escalate tension. Socially conscious melodrama at its best.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Employing accessible characters and compelling language, Chamberlain deeply mines the appalling, little-known history of North Carolina's Eugenics Sterilization Program, in effect from 1929 to 1975. As worker-tenants on a tobacco farm in 1960, 15-year-old Ivy Hart lives with her faltering, temperamental grandmother, mentally slow yet breathtakingly beautiful 17-year-old sister, young nephew Baby William, and her own epilepsy. Jane Forrester, an idealistic social worker, whose status-conscious doctor-husband isn't convinced his wife should hold a job, feels smothered by the social niceties of the early '60s South and starts to question the boundaries and mutual respect in her own marriage. When Jane becomes Ivy's family's social worker, she encounters the state program that seeks to sterilize mental defectives, among others with supposedly undesirable characteristics. Through every choice she makes from then on, Jane triggers an inescapable series of events that thrusts everything either she or Ivy ever held to be true into a harsh light, binding them together in ways they do not immediately comprehend or appreciate. Absorbing and haunting, this should strongly touch Chamberlain's fans and draw those who enjoy Jodi Picoult and Barbara Delinsky. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Chamberlain is the best-selling author of 21 novels, and her latest will have a 150,000-copy first printing and be supported by a major marketing campaign.--Trevelyan, Julie Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

In 1960s rural North Carolina, Jane Forrester will begin her career as a social worker, right after her picture-perfect honeymoon to a well-to-do doctor. Her husband, however, is none too crazy about his pretty little wife heading off alone on gravel roads to serve the feeble-minded and colored folk of Grace County. Ivy is a 15-year-old girl who works on a tobacco plantation to earn the right to stay in the shack where she and her family live. That family consists of a diabetic grandmother whose mental state is "marginal"; Ivy's beautiful, mentally disabled sister; and her sister's illegitimate two-year-old. Jane and Ivy, from totally separate worlds, will meet and change each other's lives forever. Chamberlain has written a wonderful novel. With plenty of action and lots to think about, this riveting story is one with conscience and historical backing. Chamberlain explores poverty, civil liberties, and the U.S. eugenics program while creating characters that are believable and likable. Alison Elliot's narration draws listeners deeper into the story. Place this one on the shelf next to The Help. Verdict Highly recommended.-Lisa Anderson, Omaha P.L. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



JUNE 22, 2011 1 Brenna It was an odd request--visit a stranger's house and peer inside a closet--and as I drove through the neighborhood searching for the address, I felt my anxiety mounting. There it was: number 247. I hadn't expected the house to be so large. It stood apart from its neighbors on the gently winding road, flanked on either side by huge magnolia trees, tall oaks, and crape myrtle. It was painted a soft buttery yellow with white trim, and everything about it looked crisp and clean in the early morning sun. Every house I'd passed, although different in architecture, had the same stately yet inviting look. I didn't know Raleigh well at all, but this had to be one of the most beautiful old neighborhoods in the city. I parked close to the curb and headed up the walk. Potted plants lined either side of the broad steps that led up to the wraparound porch. I glanced at my watch. I had an hour before I needed to be back at the hotel. No rush, though my nerves were really acting up. There was so much I hoped would go well today, and so much of it was out of my control. I rang the bell and heard it chime inside the house. I could see someone pass behind the sidelight and then the door opened. The woman--forty, maybe? At least ten years younger than me--smiled, although that didn't mask her harried expression. I felt bad for bothering her this early. She wore white shorts, a pink striped T-shirt, and tennis shoes, and sported a glowing tan. She was the petite, toned, and well-put-together sort of woman that always made me feel sloppy, even though I knew I looked fine in my black pants and blue blouse. "Brenna?" She ran her fingers through her short-short, spiky blond hair. "Yes," I said. "And you must be Jennifer." Jennifer peered behind me. "She's not with you?" she asked. I shook my head. "I thought she'd come, but at the last minute she said she just couldn't." Jennifer nodded. "Today must be really hard for her." She took a step back from the doorway. "Come on in," she said. "My kids are done with school for the summer, but they have swim-team practice this morning, so we're in luck. We have the house to ourselves. The kids are always too full of questions." "Thanks." I walked past her into the foyer. I was glad no one else was home. I wished I had the house totally to myself, to be honest. I would have loved to explore it. But that wasn't why I was here. "Can I get you anything?" Jennifer asked. "Coffee?" "No, I'm good, thanks." "Well, come on then. I'll show you." She led me to the broad, winding staircase and we climbed it without speaking, my shoes on the shiny dark hardwood treads making the only sound. "How long have you been in the house?" I asked when we reached the second story. "Five years," she said. "We redid everything. I mean, we painted every single room and every inch of molding. And every closet, too, except for that one." "Why didn't you paint that one?" I asked as I followed her down a short hallway. "The woman we bought the house from specifically told us not to. She said that the couple she'd bought the house from had also told her not to, but nobody seemed to understand why not. The woman we bought it from showed us the writing. My husband thought we should just paint over it--I think he was spooked by it--but I talked him out of it. It's a closet. What would it hurt to leave it unpainted?" We'd reached the closed door at the end of the hall. "I had no idea what it meant until I spoke to you on the phone." She pushed open the door. "It's my daughter's room now," she said, "so excuse the mess." It wasn't what I'd call messy at all. My twin daughters' rooms had been far worse. "How old's your daughter?" I asked. "Ten. Thus the Justin Bieber obsession." She swept her arm through the air to take in the lavender room and its nearly wall-to-wall posters. "It only gets worse." I smiled. "I barely survived my girls' teen years." I thought of my family--my husband and my daughters and their babies--up in Maryland and suddenly missed them. I hoped I'd be home by the weekend, when all of this would be over. Jennifer opened the closet door. It was a small closet, the type you'd find in these older homes, and it was crammed with clothes on hangers and shoes helter-skelter on the floor. I felt a chill, as though a ghost had slipped past me into the room. I hugged my arms as Jennifer pulled a cord to turn on the light. She pressed the clothes to one side of the closet. "There," she said, pointing to the left wall at about the level of my knees. "Maybe we need a flashlight?" she asked. "Or I can just take a bunch of these clothes out. I should have done that before you got here." She lifted an armload of the clothes and struggled to disengage the hangers before carrying them from the closet. Without the clothing, the closet filled with light and I squatted inside the tight space, pushing pink sneakers and a pair of sandals out of my way. I ran my fingers over the words carved into the wall. Ancient paint snagged my fingertips where it had chipped away around the letters. "Ivy and Mary was here." All at once, I felt overwhelmed by the fear they must have felt back then, and by their courage. When I stood up, I was brushing tears from my eyes. Jennifer touched my arm. "You okay?" she asked. "Fine," I said. "I'm grateful to you for not covering that over. It makes it real to me." "If we ever move out of this house, we'll tell the new owners to leave it alone, too. It's a little bit of history, isn't it?" I nodded. I remembered my phone in my purse. "May I take a picture of it?" "Of course!" Jennifer said, then added with a laugh, "Just don't get my daughter's messy closet in it." I pulled out my phone and knelt down near the writing on the wall. I snapped the picture and felt the presence of a ghost again, but this time it wrapped around me like an embrace. Copyright © 2013 by Diane Chamberlain Books, Inc. Excerpted from Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.