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My Progress:

16 / 30 books. 53% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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38 / 51 states. 75% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

33 / 50 books. 66% done!

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50 / 52 books. 96% done!

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30 / 40 books. 75% done!

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16 / 40 books. 40% done!

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11 / 25 books. 44% done!

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21 / 26.2 miles (2nd lap). 80% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

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30 / 100 books. 30% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

75 / 104 books. 72% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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50 / 52 books. 96% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

90 / 165 books. 55% done!
Saturday, October 24, 2020

Necessary Lies Heartbreaking But Hopeful

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Twenty-two years old and newly married, adventurous Jane Forrester is ready to set the world on fire.  Although her straight-laced husband would prefer she spend her days sipping iced tea at the country club with the other wives in their circle, Jane is anxious to begin her career as a social worker with the Department of Public Welfare.  She can't wait to play Superwoman to Raleigh's most pitiable citizens.  

When Jane begins making house calls in poor, rural Grace County, she's shocked to see her charges living in absolute squalor, the likes of which she has never experienced in her privileged life.  Her heart especially aches for 15-year-old Ivy Hart, an epileptic orphan who labors tirelessly on a tobacco farm just to keep a roof over her family's heads.  As caretaker of her ill grandmother, her sister with special needs, and her sister's toddler, Ivy's barely got enough strength to make it through the day.  When it's suggested that Ivy might be a prime candidate for North Carolina's eugenics program, Jane's torn.  While it's obvious the young woman can't handle one more stressor, "voluntary" sterilization seems extreme, even for a penniless child with no future.  The more time Jane spends with the Harts, the more she longs to ease Ivy's burdens.  When dark secrets start to surface, she must decide just how far she's willing to go—how much she's prepared to risk—to give Ivy the chance she deserves.

Until I picked up Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain, I had never heard of North Carolina's eugenics program, which operated between the 1930s and 1970s.  While the aim of the initiative was to sterilize only the mentally-challenged inmates of public institutions, it was more widely applied, leading to the sterilization of over 7500 people.  Many of the operations were coerced and performed on impoverished Black women.  Chamberlain brings the issue to vivid, heartbreaking life in Necessary Lies, an emotionally-charged historical novel that definitely hit me right in the feels.  The women at its center—Jane and Ivy—are both sympathetic characters who are so well-drawn they feel real.  My heart ached for them both.  Their stories are compelling and riveting, which made for a novel that is as gut-wrenching as it is engrossing and thought-provoking.  Although Necessary Lies tells a grim story, in the end it's a hopeful novel.  The tale moved me with its complex characters, intriguing conflict, and powerful storytelling.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about this book, which I enjoyed very much.

(Readalikes:  I haven't read The First Lie by Diane Chamberlain yet, but it's a novella that tells Ivy's story.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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