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4.7 out of 5 stars1,184
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 13 May 2014
This book actually reminded me of "The Help" in many ways, particularly the attitudes in the Southern US States of the same period. It is very difficult to realise that this Eugenics program actually did exist, and this book constitutes a protest in the name of all the victims. I enjoyed it very much and it is a good story in tandem with an important message.
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I couldn't put this book down. It tells the story of Jane Forrester, a woman in 1960 working for the Department of Public Welfare in the deep south of America. She's new to the job and finds it hard to detach herself emotionally from the families she is dealing with. One of her families is the Hart family and in particular 15 year old Ivy and her 17 year old sister, Mary Ella. They work in tobacco fields and live in poverty. The biggest part of the story relates to a moral dilemma facing Jane, and this made the book such an interesting read, especially when you consider it's based on reality.

The book alternates between being told from the points of view of Jane and Ivy. I was never confused as to who was 'speaking' as each has a very distinctive voice. I raced through the story - Diane Chamberlain has such a human way of writing, enabling me as a reader to feel empathy with the characters. Add to that her ability to write such interesting and morally complex storylines and this guarantees a fab read.
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on 12 October 2014
This is the first of her books I have read. To begin with I thought it was going to be rather silly, starting in the present, moving back to what I assumed would be the 19th century and then with a bit of the 60s thrown in too. Actually, I was expecting a ghost story by chapter 3. Once I made the connection between Ivy and Jan I soon became gripped. It's a good story and written at an exciting pace. I too had no idea that there had been such a programme in the USA and it shocked me. I felt an affinity with Jane, always trying to do the right thing and so often causing more trouble. I liked the happy ending.
Wasn't Robert an arrogant, selfish nit wit? And 10 years out of date at least, I hope? I was glad we didn't hear what happened to him. As for The Wives, they reminded me of the episode in Suburgatory where the Football Girlfriends submerge their personalities in their boyfriends! Yuk!
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on 3 May 2014
I loved this book ! From the first to last page it did not miss a beat. The story centres on Jane a social worker in North Carolina and the families she works with. Jane becomes close to the Hart girls and the story mainly follows their relationship and the consequences of Jane`s actions. I had never heard of the Eugenics Programme at the core of this book (enforced serialization) and the fact that this programme existed in North Carolina until the mid 1970s is shocking. The story has made me want to understand the programme more and the author gives an update on it with a an internet reference at the end..amazing that the repercussions still go on now. The story is well written throughout, the characters are very believable and the story is captivating and moving. I had not read any of Diane Chamberlains books before but will certainly read her in the future. Highly recommended .
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on 20 September 2013
I am a huge fan of Diane Chamberlain and reed all her books. I was so excited about this book being released but I was really disappointed.
It took me a while to get into the book and it wasn't until the last few chapters that I really got into it.... not Diane at her best.
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on 3 April 2015
Necessary Lies...... shame really...... Necessary Lies...... a shame that people would even believe this was right! It takes one individual to bring this to people's attention. And only then start to think it's not right... I am glad someone chose to stand up, to make it heard. This is not a normal life. This is wrong.
I felt for both Ivy and Jane in the story. The out come was the best out come, and of course life itself as it is meant to be lead.
Brilliant story as always. Diane Chamberlain books always grab me, making me want more. Also they don't always finish with the best ending but the right ending. Life isn't a smooth ride. It's how we deal with day to day events. Always changing and different endings for everyone.
I'd recommend this book to anyone. Sit back and relax. You're in for a bumpy ride.
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on 25 January 2015
4.5 stars.

I really enjoyed this book once I got into it - I knew nothing about US social work in 1960 or about the sterilisation programme, and it made the perfect setting for this engaging, quick read. The alternating chapters worked well and kept the pace going at a good rate and allowed is to see the issue from both sides, the social workers and their clients.

The only thing I didn't like, though this is a minor complaint, is the ending - I felt Brenna narrating the end thirty years on or however many it was a little jarring, and a lot of information came out very quickly. I would have preferred Jane or Ivy or both to have told the end. However, that is personal juice, and doesn't detract hugely from what was by and large an excellent and thought-provoking read.
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on 22 March 2016
What a beautiful way of opening our eyes to the horrors humans are capable of. Stunning visual depictions of poverty and such involved characters I was very sad when it was over. I hope someone makes this into a film so more people learn about the truth
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on 4 February 2014
The story began in the future and then went back to the past. There were two very different main characters and most of the story revolved around these two, one being a newly qualified social worker and the other one of her charges from a very poor disadvantaged family. The title of the book was very apt in that the story revolves round the telling of lies, some of them necessary while others that are simply a complete fabrication of the truth, and the way that the characters deal with these lies. I enjoyed the book to such an extent that at times I felt that I was in the story! The ending makes the connection between the first chapter and the rest of the story and I was surprised to learn that the book was based on fact. I think that it would make a very good film or TV series.
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on 7 January 2015
Having read several of this author's books I found this to be rather predictable to begin with. I did not realise that the story was based on truth. Up to 1979 the state of North Carolina had a programme of enforced sterilization for those young women who were considered feeble minded, based on a system of eugenics. Jane is a newly married social worker whose clients come from a very different social class. She is drawn into the problems of the Hart family much to the disapproval of her doctor husband. The eldest daughter has her young son taken away from her for adoption without her consent. Ivy, the youngest sister is in love and at the age of 15 finds herself pregnant and is determined she will keep her baby and not be sterilized. She turns to Jane for help.
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