Hope you’re all having a wonderful week. I figured I would do something a little different for this post. Since I was sick in bed last week, I got a good amount of reading done, which I always mean to do more of but always make excuses not to… Anyway, I figured I’d give a little bit of a review of one of the books I read.
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
I bought this book last year when I discovered the website, Book Depository. I had heard wonderful things about the author, and the little blurb I read sounded interesting so I decided to add it to my cart. There was a 50% off promotion going on, so I got a really great deal on it.
When I tell you I read this book in one sitting, I’m not even exaggerating. Granted, I was sick in bed at the time, but it was a book I just could not put down.
It’s considered Historical Fiction and centers around two characters, Ivy and Jane, who live in North Carolina in 1960 when the “Eugenics Program” was still in full swing. It had been banned most places because it was said to be too much like Hitler’s attempt at creating a “Master Race,” but in North Carolina, it continued on until the mid 1970’s.
Jane is a newlywed who wants not to be a housewife like all the other women of her time, and instead gets a job as a social worker, much to her husband’s dismay. This is how she meets Ivy, a 15-year old girl who is basically taking care of her elderly grandmother, 17-year-old sister, and her sister’s 2-year-old toddler. They live in poverty and rely on charity and the few cents they make working on a tobacco farm to survive, but by the time Jane gets the family’s case, she can see that they are doomed if she doesn’t step in.
Aside from the blatant racism, the horrors of sterilizing people without their knowledge and then lying to them about the sterilization, Jane’s husband, Robert is probably the most loathsome character in the entire book. All he wants from her is a housewife who cooks and cleans and doesn’t talk so much. He’d rather her, “Shut up and look pretty,” which made me want to throw the book across the room multiple times. However, I knew that the tone of the book wasn’t in support of those behaviors and I had to keep remembering it was based on a southern family in the 1960’s, but I couldn’t help feeling completely enraged every time he would speak.
Ivy, as a character, is absolutely wonderful. The poor girl has had to grow up so fast and doesn’t realize how incredibly gifted she is, despite what the rigged I.Q. test says. (Part of how they determine who needs to be sterilized.) Each page brought me closer and closer to these two characters and seeing their relationship grow and change just kept me wanting more.
I’ll be honest, I had NO idea that the “Eugenics Program” was ever a thing in the US. I’m from the south, and we never talked about it during history, so I was appalled at the thought and am now doing research so that I can become a little more educated about the subject. As the book says multiple times, it is way too much like Hitler’s desire to create a master race of what he considered the “best,” and it mortified me that this was happening in our country less than 60 years ago. It’s petrifying.
I encourage you, if you want to read a book that will both break your heart and lift your spirits, AND has some awesome female characters, you pick up this book and give it a shot. This has definitely made me a Diane Chamberlain fan and I can only hope that I enjoy her other works as much as I did this one.
Are you reading any books right now? If so, which ones? Also, which genre do you usually prefer? Like I said, I’ve never found myself to read historical fiction outside of school, but this book just might be what introduces me to a whole new world of stories I’ll enjoy. Now, to choose which book I should read next…
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Until next time! ❤