Customer Reviews for

White Picket Fences: A Novel

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted August 4, 2010

    A Pleasant Surprise

    I won "White Picket Fences" quite a while back from another blog giveaway. I have to admit I had so many books to read that this one went into my "to be read pile" where it stayed for quite a while. The other day I was looking through those books for my next read. For some reason this one caught my eye. I really had no idea what the genre was or what the book was about. I just started reading.

    The protagonists were three cousins as well as a friend to one of them. When I first started reading I thought it was geared to young adults, but after reading a while longer I discovered this was a story for all ages! It is a story of people holding onto secrets and not wanting to let them go for fear of what might happen - but in the long run the secrets begin to come out and effect those who are involved. This story is about the Janviers family who appear to have the perfect life to those who know them, but inside of their home more than one person is holding onto a secret that is beginning to destroy their lives from the inside out. Can an unexpected visit from their niece/cousin be the catalyst that begins a healing for this family. I urge you to read the book and find out. I believe this is something everyone can relate to at one time or another in their lives. I love it when I am pleasantly surprised.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2014

    Very dramatic and exciting. A really good read.

    This book takes place in the present but has some "flashbacks" to
    WWII and the Nazis is Warsaw,Poland. The characters are well drawn
    and are very interesting. It is a fast and exciting read. Worth your time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    Warior den

    8 nests made.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    What's behind the fence?

    As with Susan's last book The Shape of Mercy, I found this book to be a very deep and thought provoking. The story is compelling as we think about family dynamics. We always hear that we don't know what others are going through and the seemingly "perfect" family has its own issues.

    Tally enters the Janvier's home carrying the secrets her father left with her before he headed to Europe. She's promised not to say anything and does her best to keep his secret. In turn, we begin to learn about secrets the other family members harbor.

    What is it about secrets? I know there are times we think certain secrets are to be kept, when they'd be helpful if revealed. Then there are those precious secrets that once brought to light cause damage never dreamed of. This is exampled as we listen to the stories of Eliasz and Josef during their time in the Warsaw Ghetto of WWII.

    White Picket Fences certainly is a detour from The Shape of Mercy and underscores the strength and gift of Susan Meissner's writing. This is not what I would consider light reading, but it is thoughtfully written and a must-have for any bookshelf.

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  • Posted November 13, 2009

    Couldn't Put it Down

    This is the first book I've read by Susan Meissner and WOW, what a treat it was. I've read many books over the years and some authors almost giveaway the storyline about half way through as they put closure to the book ending.. But not Susan. I was on the edge of me seat reading page after page, thinking 'Oh, I figured it out' but as I turn the page, I say 'Oh, I don't'.

    I loved reading to the last page without knowing the ending. This book is full of action, love, questions, regrets, and forgiveness.. Not everything you see is what it really is. The white picket fences of tody are not always full of happiness and love. As you read through this story you will learn that everyone fails to be perfect but can learn forgiveness through the mercy of Jesus Christ.. If you are looking for a Christian Fiction book that will want you to turn each page then this book is for you! I would highly recommend this book..

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  • Posted November 13, 2009

    Another outstanding novel from a must-read author

    White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner is a powerful novel about how the past shapes the future. Amanda Janvier gets more than she expected when she allows her niece, Tally, to stay with her family after her brother/Tally's father disappears. Amanda has worked hard to keep up the illusion of the perfect family, but Tally's arrival exposes the cracks in the foundations, and a school project between Tally and Amanda's son Chase brings up long hidden secrets and wounds which will leave them all permanently changed. Meissner's books are lyrical and haunting telling truths about the present by creating parallels in the past. With fully-fleshed characters and realistic dialogue, her stories captivate both the reader's heart and mind.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    White Picket Fences Book Review

    "White Picket Fences" by Susan Meissner illustrates the illusion of "normal" families.
    Sixteen year old Tally has lived a very different life with her Dad than her Aunt Amanda and Uncle Neil live with their two children, Chase (17) and Delcey (13). Her Dad's characteristic upending of their current living situation puts Tally with her infrequently visited Grandmother Virginia. On the second day there, Tally comes home to find her Grandma has passed on. With no family, except for her Dad's sister, Amanda, her Aunt's home becomes the logical place to stay until her Dad returns from his "treasure-hunting" in Poland.
    Aunt Amanda and Uncle Neil live in a nice, middle class neighborhood. Cousin Chase shows Tally around the school, and gradually they become friends. A class project puts Chase and Tally together as they interview two Holocaust survivors. They slowly discover there are secrets in each one's life that are eating at their "normal" life.

    "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?"

    This book reminds me of the verse, John 8:32 "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." This book has a great conclusion!! It would be appropriate for older teens to read.

    Author Bio: 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 Publishers 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.

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  • Posted November 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Susan Meissner has done it again

    Susan Meissner is one of the most prolific authors that I have ever read. Whenever someone asks me to recommend a new author or some books to them, I ALWAYS include her on that list. Every single one of her books have been wonderful reads that are not only entertaining but though provoking and highly impacting. In fact, there have only been two books in the past five years that have made me actually cry: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner. That's who much her books have affected me. So as always I was beyond thrilled that she had a new book out.

    This book has so much going on in it, many multiple story lines that one would think how in the world can they all possibly tie together? That's the beauty of Susan's writing, that not only do they tie together but they all need each other in order to portray the full depth of the entire story. Within this story you have: a daughter who's abandoned by her father, a wife and mother who's trying to make sure that her family keeps up their perfect appearance, a son who's trying to remember a horrific incident that happened when he was a child, and a family secret that has been kept hidden for over 60 years. I really like Tally and Chase. Not only do they get along well as cousins but they both try to help each other understand their past. By helping the other person rediscover their life, they are able to take a deeper look into their own soul. The Holocaust/Jewish story was extremely interesting and one I myself would like to delve in further. Amanda's story, while not as intriguing as Tally's and Chase's, is worth reading as well. Her attempts at keeping up the perfect family lifestyle doesn't go as plan, and neither does her relationships with her husband or male colleague.

    I thought the cover of the book was absolutely perfect. There's that idealistic white fence which represents the perfect household, but the paint is peeling and there's a cobweb on it. It's so simplistic yet speaks a thousand words. I thought it was interesting that I felt that I kept wanting Tally's father to make an appearance in the story but he never does. It bothered me at first until I read the author interview which brings up this point and explains her choice to not put him in the book. I really like books that include those question/answer interviews in the back of the book so that the reader can automatically feel a sense of completion.

    This book is another wonderful work of art from Susan Meissner and destined to be another highly recommended title. Honestly if you have not picked up any of her books before, you MUST. Seriously you will NOT be disappointed.

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  • Posted November 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner

    In White Picket Fences, Neil and Amanda Janvier feel obligated to take in the daughter of Amanda's estranged brother when he disappears in Europe. Tally was staying with her grandmother when she passed away suddenly, and Tally finds herself with nowhere to go since her dad is out of the country and hasn't contacted her. What will it be like living with her Aunt Amanda? Will they force her tell why her dad went to Europe, a secret she promised to keep?

    Do I want to know the truth of what happened all those years ago? If I find out the truth, how will it change me? These are the questions that Chase Janvier is asking himself regarding an incident that happened when he was four years old. Not knowing what to do, Chase keeps his secret to himself. That is, until Tally shows up at their house. Tally can tell that something isn't right about Chase after they start working on a sociology project together about the Holocaust. They interview two Holocaust survivors in a nearby nursing home and Tally sees Chase react oddly to parts of the story they are being told.

    Amanda begins to notice some pretty dramatic changes in Chase that cause her to wonder if he really does remember what happened all those years ago. But surely if he remembered, he would tell them. Wouldn't he? Should she ask him about it? What kind of damage would she do if she brings it up and he really doesn't remember? Clearly, though, something is wrong and Amanda just doesn't know what to do or which direction to turn.

    Will they all be able to handle the truth when all the secrets are revealed?

    As always, Susan Meissner does a wonderful job weaving a tale of deception, secrets, and twisted paths. The characters in this story have a major problem with trust.trust in each other and trust in God, which just bugged me throughout the story. If they would just communicate, many of their problems would be solved. Yet, how true to life it is that communication is a trouble-spot! Sometimes secrets can be beneficial, but secrets like these are only destructive to the people involved. True freedom and happiness was found when the secrets were revealed and the characters were able to deal with the ramifications of how the secrets changed their lives.

    When I first picked up this book, I was intrigued by the cover: a white picket fence with a cobweb near the top. It's so easy for people to look like they have it all-together on the outside with their pretty houses and white picket fences. But on the inside, all families have secrets and cobwebs hiding from the real world.

    I always enjoy reading books my Meissner, and White Picket Fences was no different. Her books always challenge a person to really take a hard look at themselves, deep inside, to discover their true character. She caused me to ask myself how I would handle the truth if some long-ago family secret was revealed to me? Would I let it weigh me down or would I allow it to cause me to grow as a person?

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    a thought provoking look at families, past and present.

    In Southern California, when her brother Bart Bachman runs off to Poland on some allegedly family roots drama, he leaves his motherless sixteen year old daughter Tally behind and homeless. Knowing her sibling's chronic irresponsibility, with her husband's support Amanda Janvier offers to give her teenage niece a roof. Amanda hopes she and her spouse can provide Tally positive role models.

    Tally and her seventeen year old cousin Chase become friends while interviewing Holocaust victims on a class project. The teens soon uncover secrets re their extended family, but especially Chase, who suffers from nightmares involving a fire. As they dig deeper into the family mystery, the two cousins have unraveled the past that the older generation prefers left concealed back in the old country.

    Purposely the family is hyperbolic characterizations of who are considered the "norm" for people residing inside the WHITE PICKET FENCES. Thus, the two teens bring freshness to this entertaining contemporary fiction when they nuke the so called paragon family model with their vigor for the truth. Although the forced ties to Europe and the Holocaust seem a stretch compounded exponentially by one another, Susan Meissner still provides her audience with a thought provoking look at families, past and present.

    Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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