Sometimes the only thing perfect about perfect is that it isn’t: WHITE PICKET FENCES by Susan Meissner


Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.

Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.

Readers of emotional dramas that are willing to explore the lies that families tell each other for protection and comfort will love White Picket Fences. The novel is ideal for those who appreciate exploring questions like: what type of honesty do children need from their parents, or how can one move beyond a past that isn’t acknowledged or understood? Is there hope and forgiveness for the tragedies of our past and a way to abundant grace?

Note from Christa: Susan Meissner was on my radar even before The Shape of Mercy, which I think isn’t just a breakout book…it’s a break through book. In that novel, Susan breathed life into the Salem witchcraft trials and the events surrounding them. And, in doing so, created characters that poignantly brought that time in history alive for readers. What I found interesting was that the essence of White Picket Fences is captured on the novel’s cover. That idyllic American dream of the perfect family, the house, the white picket fence and the notion that, even if we’re not living that life, someone is. But between those posts on Meissner’s cover is a delicate, gossamer spider web, as perfectly deceiving as the secrets we keep. Secrets that have the potential to break us or the lives of others. In her latest novel, Susan uses events from the Holocaust to bring her characters to face tragedies in their own lives. Don’t miss this one.


Susan Meissner cannot remember a time when she wasn’t driven to put her thoughts down on paper. Her novel The Shape of Mercy was a Publish Weekly pick for best religious fiction of 2008 and a Christian Book Award finalist. Susan and her husband live in Southern California, where he is a pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. They are the parents of four grown children.







Multnomah provided a copy of this book.


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