Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Audio Book Review: Necessary Lies, by Diane Chamberlain

I found Necessary Lies to be totally absorbing and also heartbreaking.

Wow. The issues in this book. Jane is newly married. It's 1960 and her husband is a doctor, and he's appalled that Jane wants to work. In his opinion, she should stay home and have babies. Jane has other ideas. She gets a job as a social worker. Her clients will be from one of the poorest counties in North Carolina, and yes some of them will be black!

Jane's husband is no support at all. As Jane muddles through trying to figure out what is right for her poor welfare clients, she has no one to turn to.

Our other narrator is Ivy, once of Jane's clients. She's 15 years old, and living as a share-cropper on a farm. She lives with her elderly grandma (a diabetic), her sister (mildly retarded), and her sister's son, two-year-old "Baby William." Baby William is also behind in his development.

We have Jane's issues because of her non-traditional desire to work, and we have Ivy's welfare family who only survive because of the generosity of the farmer. But, the biggest issue that Necessary Lies tries to address is North Carolina’s Eugenics Sterilization Program. Ivy's sister has been sterilized and she doesn't know it. Jane's mentor believes that Ivy needs to be sterilized too, and she's already started the application process.

Jane is terribly idealistic. TOO idealistic. Some of her decisions were so hasty and based on emotions alone. She could have waited and consulted other professionals before making some of the decisions that she made. She just gets deeper and deeper until she's dug herself a hole she cannot get out of. Her motives are true. She is the sweetest person, and truly believes that she must stop Ivy's sterilization at all costs. And I mean ALL costs.

The fact that the eugenics program depicted in Necessary Lies is totally real (and was legal in North Carolina until 1975!) just makes the story more riveting. There is a lot more to this story, but I think you should just experience it for yourself, so I won't babble anymore.

The dual narration works very well in Necessary Lies. The "encircling" story -- the prologue and epilogue -- is also very effective.

I would recommend Necessary Lies to readers who enjoy historical fiction and especially the social issues of the 1960s. The audio book narrator, Alison Elliott, is superb. Her voices have different nuances for the various characters but still sound totally natural. I would definitely recommend the audio version of Necessary Lies.

Published by St. Martin's Press, September 3, 2013, Macmillan Audio
Audio book obtained from the library
352 pages

Rating: 4/5





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1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this one too! I also was very surprised to learn about the eugenics program - heartbreaking.

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