Sunday, August 11, 2013

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

Rating 5/5 stars
Pub. Date July 31th 2013 (UK) September 3rd 2013(USA)


Bestselling author Diane Chamberlain delivers a breakout book about a small southern town fifty years ago, and the darkest—and most hopeful—places in the human heart

After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed.  She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients' lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband.  But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed.  Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.

Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy.  Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?


From 1929 until 1974, an estimated 7,600 North Carolinians, women and men, many of whom were poor, undereducated, institutionalized, sick or disabled, were sterilized by choice, force or coercion under the authorization of the North Carolina Eugenics Board program.

A 1937 Fortune magazine poll found that 2/3 of respondents supported eugenic sterilization of "mental defectives", 63% supported sterilization of criminals, and only 15% opposed both. Although the following events were not explicitly justified through the by-now-discredited eugenics movement, they certainly fit the older pattern. In 1970’s, several activists and women’s rights groups discovered several physicians to be performing coerced sterilizations of specific ethnic groups of society. All were abuses of poor, nonwhite, or mentally retarded women, while no abuses against white or middle-class women were recorded.

For example, in 1972, United States Senate committee testimony brought to light that at least 2,000 involuntary sterilizations had been performed on poor black women without their consent or knowledge. An investigation revealed that the surgeries were all performed in the South, and were all performed on black welfare mothers with multiple children. Testimony revealed that many of these women were threatened with an end to their welfare benefits until they consented to sterilization.

For more read: 

When I read The first lie I couldn't imagine that this wasn't just a work of fiction. I thought it was going to be just another book that belongs to historical fiction genre. But Necessary lies is more than that. I learned about the Eugenics program in the USA. It was cruel and inhuman.

Mary Ella was forced to be sterilized. Ivy had the same destiny because they were born in a low class family. And the thing is that they might have never known what had happened to them because no one asked them if they wanted to have a sterilization.

I liked that romance was only a small part of the book and the largest part was dedicated to lives of Ivy and Jane. Ivy is a 15 year old girl who has to take care of Mary Ella, Baby William, Nonie and work. Jane has her own problems with her past and the disapproval of her husaband and his social circle because she wants to work. In the 60's it wasn't common for women like her to work.

Nonie is my least favorite person. She is selfish and I can't believe how she betrayed her own granddaughter. Henry Allen even though is not present much is one of my favorites. So is Ivy. I liked Mary Ella, Jane and Lita.

I loved the end but I would have changed a single thing which I am not allowed to say since it will spoil some parts. The confusing point of view in the beginning made sense and things were positive.

Read our review for the prequel of Necessary lies The first lie by diane chamberlain