Read White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner Online


When her black sheep brother disappears, Amanda Janvier eagerly takes in her sixteen year-old niece Tally. The girl is practically an orphan: motherless, and living with a father who raises Tally wherever he lands? in a Buick, a pizza joint, a horse farm?and regularly takes off on wild schemes. Amanda envisions that she, her husband Neil, and their two teenagers can offerWhen her black sheep brother disappears, Amanda Janvier eagerly takes in her sixteen year-old niece Tally. The girl is practically an orphan: motherless, and living with a father who raises Tally wherever he lands? in a Buick, a pizza joint, a horse farm?and regularly takes off on wild schemes. Amanda envisions that she, her husband Neil, and their two teenagers can offer the girl stability and a shot at a normal life, even though their own storybook lives are about to crumble.Seventeen-year-old Chase Janvier hasn't seen his cousin in years, and other than a vague curiosity about her strange life, he doesn't expect her arrival will affect him much, or interfere with his growing, disturbing interest in a long-ago house fire that plagues his dreams unbeknownst to anyone else. 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. Will Tally's presence blow apart their carefully-constructed world, knocking down the illusion of the white picket fence and reveal a hidden past that could destroy them all, or can she help them find the truth without losing each other?...

Title : White Picket Fences
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781400074570
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

White Picket Fences Reviews

  • Deborah Malone
    2019-01-02 10:18

    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.

  • Judy Churchill
    2019-01-22 13:04

    Engrossing and enlightening, this book weaves the story of a contemporary family in emotional crisis with WWII tales of Nazi capture, escape and death. The author who believes all things turn around human relationships, takes a teenager's early trauma where he is desperately trying to remember key events, and introduces the family to two rest home residents who survived the concentration camp of Treblenka. These men, now in their nineties, express the concept of remembering as a function of need and capability. Do you truly want to know, are you capable of surviving that knowledge or is the failure of the memory a defense mechanism for something you couldn't bear to learn. The story is exquisite and the characters are perfect for their function. I could hardly put the book down.

  • Melinda
    2019-01-11 11:08

    I liked this book well enough, but was drawn more to the subplot than the ongoing saga of the protagonist's utterly dysfunctional family. In fact, I wished that more had been discussed about the two Holocaust survivors who were sent to concentration camps in Poland because of their participation of successfully rescuing babies from the Jewish ghettos. That story was both fascinating and eye-opening to me. The rest of the book could have been somewhat shortened if the Janvier family could have ceased in keeping all of their problems silent and taken several opportunities to simply talk with one another. That aspect got a bit old after a while - enough already, spill your guts and get on with your lives.

  • Heidi
    2019-01-09 13:05

    I especially liked the two main characters in this novel - teen-aged cousins grappling with what to do regarding their secrets and their memories. I also liked that, although this is "Christian fiction," it was not "obviously" and in-your-face Christian. There were moments where you saw the family's faith and values impacting their thinking; there were other times when you didn't see Jesus reflected in their lives. Sort of like reality, right?! I liked this book, enough to try some other books by Meissner.

  • Dana
    2019-01-22 10:10

    I picked up this book at the library in a last minute attempt to find something to read. Recently I read Secrets of a Charmed Life and loved it! So I thought I would try another book by the same author. This book, however, fell short for me. The characters and dialogue seemed a bit off and the main storyline wasn't compelling. There were also some character connections that were a stretch to believe. I did enjoy the parts about the Warsaw Ghettos and longed for more of those stories instead of the main family.

  • Kelly Veatch
    2019-01-12 13:06

    Not my favorite of Meissner's books....but I did like it.

  • Rhonda Ruff
    2018-12-29 12:12

    I really like Susan Meissners books You can see that from my past reviews. Although this one was good it didnt keep me wanting to come back to it I felt they should have developed one of the stories more and one less lol That being said still a good book just not one of my favorites

  • Sarah Sundin
    2019-01-05 12:07

    Meissner once again skillfully weaves together contemporary and historical storylines. Her characters are complex and engaging, and her writing is beautiful.

  • Jackie
    2019-01-20 08:25


  • Christine
    2018-12-25 08:25

    I enjoyed this book and it held my attention throughout, no slow parts. I liked the way they merged the stories of the Holocaust survivors and the main story. Truly enjoyable book.

  • rhondagranquist
    2019-01-14 10:05

    I did like this is not my favorite by her, so far. Amanda and Neil have the perfect life in a nice home, with two great kids, good jobs, no problems. One day Amanda gets a call from a social worker in Tucson saying that Amanda's brother, Bart, has left his daughter tally, with Amanda and Barts mother. Bart has gone off and doesn't know when he'll beBack. In the meantime grandma has died and tally is basically homeless so Amanda and her husband are flying out and take Tally home with them to California, not knowing how long part will be gone. Amanda son Chase gets tally involved in a school project, interviewing two old men had a care center. One is Catholic one is Jewish and they both survived the Holocaust. Chase and tell he begin to interview these two men and has they do they find out things about their family no one knew about. I enjoyed this it was a good read, no language nothing to complain about

  • Stacy
    2019-01-02 15:24

    So many things happening in this book - Tally's grandmother has died and her father is out of the country where she can't reach him, Amanda's family looks perfect but has a secret they are trying to keep buried, and there are two older Polish men who survived the concentration camps. The latter story was actually the most interesting, but I was connected enough to the other characters to care what was happening with them. Granted so much of the book could have been solved if people would only talk to each other. However, since the point was that communicating with loved ones is important, it made sense to show how not being open with each other can cause problems.

  • Joanne Payling
    2019-01-13 10:29

    Satisfying ReadMeissner is a beautifully descriptive writer. She paints a scene with every detail. This novel was satisfying. It wove a contemporary story with memories from the past and by the end everything dovetailed well. The only reason I didn't give five stars is because I found it somewhat unbelievable that neither parents nor son ever discussed the fire. It is hard for me to imagine something so crucial in a child's life being ignored.

  • Carolyn Vandine west
    2018-12-26 07:08

    I really enjoyed the main plot and subplot woven together. A great thinking book about not perfect Christians. I just discovered Susan recently and really enjoy her books and this is a great one as well. Will have to finish my to be Reads soon so I can devour another one. Enjoy

  • Jennie
    2018-12-27 15:02

    Probably more 2.5. Felt a little contrived and hard for me to get engaged in the story or characters.

  • Lisa
    2019-01-13 13:32

    I enjoyed this, especially all the connections between past and present in this book. Looking forward to reading more from Meissner. 3.5 stars.

  • Megan Goulet
    2019-01-20 10:03

    one of my most favorite authors. loved the ending and how the characters tied together ❤️

  • Gregandemy
    2019-01-05 11:16

    Love this author, but did not care for this novel. It seemed so silly to me and I couldn't care about the characters or the story. Skip this and go for her later novels which are fantastic!

  • Dina
    2018-12-30 14:22

    My least favorite by this author. The historical information was great but the parental figures & the teacher seemed unrealistic to me...

  • Nora St Laurent
    2019-01-11 08:21

    Secrets! When is it ok to keep a secret? This is what Amanda; Tally’s aunt says about them, “My grandmother had her secrets. My father had his. You have yours. And I… What do they really accomplish anyway? I mean, think about it. What secret did anyone any good? Can you think of one?”Tally does think of a good secret. Josef and Eliasz told of their secret operation to save babies from the horrific conditions of the ghetto. It had to be kept a secret so that lives could be saved. Tally knew that her Aunt was hinting around that she should tell her the reason her father was off on a sudden trip to Europe. Her father has asked her not to tell and she wasn’t sure why but she wanted to keep the secret.Tally’s father Bart is a drifter. Tally has lived more places than she could count. Bart left her at her grandmother’s house so that he could head to Warsaw to uncover a family secret. He would come for Tally after he found what he was looking for. But something neither of them planned on happened at her grandmother’s house. After that unfortunate event Tally goes to temporally stay with Aunt Amanda and Uncle Neil, with their two children Chase and Delcey. Tally observes this two parented family. This is the first time for her to stay with them. Delcey isn’t crazy about sharing her room or having anything to do with her. Chase is in the same grade and they team up to do a project for school. Chase included his best friend in the mix as well. The three of them head out to learn about the Holocaust and its survivors. Chase just so happens to know two men in a nursing home they can talk to.When Josef and Eliasz start sharing their story something is stirred in Chase and he can’t shake it. He starts to have nightmares and soon realizes that what he’s haunted by in his sleep is real. He searches for the missing pieces of his families past that will help him uncover some family secrets that have to be exposed. He could not be tortured by them anymore.Susan once again pens a remarkable story I hadn’t expected. Her characters are believable, and talk about things you only think of, but don’t say. I truly liked how she discussed the horrific subject matter of the Holocaust, the survivors and the matter of family secrets. Which do you keep and which ones need telling no matter how painful you might think it will be to expose them. This is one very compelling story, of fighting for what is right, loving till it hurts and developing relationships that are loving and matter. I received a review copy of this book and I’m very glad I did.Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”Nora St.LaurentThe Book Club Network www.bookfun.orgThe Book Club Network blog Book Fun Magazine

  • Lynette
    2019-01-19 11:12

    I really liked this book. I love dual storylines with past and present stories. This one deals with the Holocaust and the Jewish Getto in Warsaw. I have been there and I remember how disturbing it was to see the bullet holes in the building walls. What happened there is so awful. There were so many parts to this story and I was worried something would be left hanging, but everything was wrapped up perfectly.

  • Barbara
    2019-01-10 08:25

    There's a lot going on here! Estranged adult siblings, repressed traumatic memories, bad parenting, holocaust survivors, woodworking, fire, buried treasure.

  • Margaret Chind
    2019-01-15 13:13

    When I heard about this new novel from Susan Meissner, I was extremely excited because to me "The Shape of Mercy" is now a classic that all students who study the Crucible should also have to read. While "White Picket Fences" is a completely different type of book it is still incredible writing. For me, I would not necessarily call it a favorite, but overall as a whole (redundant I know, but making a point here) I enjoyed it. Looking at the cover of this book tells you the most of what you need to know. There is the white picket fence slats and then a spiders web weaving it's way right in. Perfectionism would make one want to get rid of the web and go back to perfection, but the artistic persona would believe that the web was part of the whole picture that made it a different kind of perfect. Really, this cover could not be more appropriate for the message within the story. Several characters share their point of view and take the slot as the main protagonist going throughout the book. There is Amanda, the mother who realizes everything is fading from her grasp and her way of dealing seems to be to sit and watch it go. Then there is Tallulah, or Tally, the cousin that has had a roller coaster life, or at least it would seem that way to an outsider. Learning the obstacles and neat realities of her life is an adventure and really not all bad. Lastly of main people, there is Chase, the son who deals with a memory that he cannot see the entirety of and possibility seems to push him further and further to the edge. There were times while reading that I was just ready for something to happen. While there are some action events in this novel that is not the type of novel that it is. This book is more about the inner part of a person and how things change and affect it. It is incredible the way that Susan writes and she can really get to you as a reader and challenge your own emotions and the way that you see things in your own life. So many people try to live the life of perfection and it is interesting how they react when things do not quite pan out that way. The questions and changes to the lives of the characters is not what one would expect after reading the book blurb or hearing a summary. There are psychological elements here and they are barely touched upon in the writing, but present non the less. I personally, put this book on the keeper shelf, but recommend that when you read it to have some time available so that you can mull over just what it is that you should take from reading the novel. *This book was provided for review by Waterbrook Multnomah.*

  • Wrighty
    2018-12-29 07:16

    When her black sheep brother disappears, Amanda Janvier eagerly takes in her sixteen year-old niece Tally. The girl is practically an orphan: motherless, and living with a father who raises Tally wherever he lands– in a Buick, a pizza joint, a horse farm–and regularly takes off on wild schemes. Amanda envisions that she, her husband Neil, and their two teenagers can offer the girl stability and a shot at a “normal” life, even though their own storybook lives are about to crumble.Seventeen-year-old Chase Janvier hasn’t seen his cousin in years, and other than a vague curiosity about her strange life, he doesn’t expect her arrival will affect him much–or interfere with his growing, disturbing interest in a long-ago house fire that plagues his dreams unbeknownst to anyone else.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.Will Tally’s presence blow apart their carefully-constructed world, knocking down the illusion of the white picket fence and reveal a hidden past that could destroy them all–or can she help them find the truth without losing each other?My ThoughtsThe first thing I noticed about this book was the cover with it’s seemingly idyllic picket fence that has a bit of peeling paint and a spider’s web. It’s not so perfect after all. And that’s how the author intended it. The Janviers appear to have the idyllic life with their beautiful home, wonderful children and great jobs but that proverbial white picket fence that surrounds it all and protects them also hides their secrets.I was intrigued by this family right away. When their niece comes into their home it unintentionally upsets the delicate balance that they have maintained. There are several subplots that develop throughout the book as the different characters are introduced and their stories are told. Secrets and memories that have been dormant are brought to the surface and must now be dealt with. The individual stories eventually weave together and characters work to heal old wounds and make better choices. I enjoyed this story and think every reader can find something or someone to identify with. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

  • momruncraft
    2019-01-05 10:25

    A white picket fence often conjures up the image of familial bliss. Perfection. Happiness. It can also act as another barrier to the outside. Another wall that keeps family stories hidden.Amanda Janvier's brother has always been a free spirit. Free in the sense that he has never settled down, rarely keeps a job, and struggles to put a roof over his head...and his daughter's. Amanda receives a phone call from a social worker that changes everything. Her brother has left his daughter, Tally, with her grandmother who passed suddenly. Tally, unable to contact her father or name his exact location, is now homeless. Amanda's husband Neil is reluctant to take in another child, another teenager. His relationship with his two teens may appear idyllic but is strained from silence. Secrets. Conversations feared.Seventeen-year-old Chase Janvier is quiet and can often be found lost within his thoughts. He has a couple of friends at school but chooses to keep himself distant. He finds his cousin's life interesting and immediately feels a bond with her. The two cousins are paired together for a sociology project at school: the project requires them to interview two Holocaust survivors living in a local assisted living facility. The two survivors give detailed descriptions of their time as "baby smugglers" in the Warsaw Ghetto. Many children were destined a tragic fate in the Ghetto and the two men smuggled them out and freed hundreds of babies and childrens. While their story in the book is fictional, the act itself of smuggling babies and children out was very real and based off the story of Irena Sendler, a Catholic social worker who risked her life to save more than two thousand Jewish children during the Holocaust.Tally's presence, the interview with the two Holocaust survivors, and his parent's strange behavior bring about distant, long burried memories about a fire Chase survived when he was four years old. Inadvertently, Tally stands to destroy all that the Janvier's have built. And hidden. A story that illustrates the importance and priceless value of communication, honesty, and trust. Each member of the Janvier family carries a secret, an increasingly stiffling burden yet neither one wants to risk hurting the other. An individual stick breaks easily; however, if you bunch together four or five sticks it is nearly impossible to break the bunch.

  • Katie
    2019-01-13 10:19

    Overall it was a good book. It took a while to get set up and going, but once it did, it hooks you right in. it wasn't predictable line I was thinking in some chapters which was nice. The story was very compelling but sometimes slow. I enjoyed taking the journey with Chase to find the truth, but I also really loved Eli and Josef story.

  • Michelle Robinson
    2018-12-22 07:09

    This was an interesting premise for a book. Memories and how they can affect a family. The suppression or communication of information among family memebers.The son in this book has a very troubling event take place in his life when he was young, his parents think he does not remember. He is remembering more and more, a serious break down in communication between his family and himself has dramatic consequences for them all.There is also a visiting cousin, whose father never feels like more than a shadow, that the family has integrated into their family home. I was pretty disgusted with her father I could not really feel much more than sympathy for her she felt just more and more generic for me. The younger sister, whose name I cannot remember no matter how I try is so much the "typical" teen age girl that she simply fades into the background.Some reviews have labeled this as a Christian novel. I take issue with that. If God is mentioned, it is only briefly and peripherally. There is nothing that ties anything in this book to any real foundational belief. I don't like "preachy" Christian fiction but if anyone practices any religion, you would think that person's religious ideals would really be demonstrated in the book. I don't think mentioning god or church once or twice, which is mainly all I saw here makes this a Christian book any more that if any individual mentions a martini or beer once every so often and stops in a bar sporadically makes them an alcoholic.There is a novel storyline included into the story relating to some Jewish gentlemen who escaped the holocaust. I found these men to be the most real of the novel and I found thier story compelling and interesting. I was constantly looking forward to reading more and more about them.This is not a bad book, it just never really resonated with me much overall. I was especially disappointed in the way the story resolved for the niece Tally, her father seemed incredibly negligent and it seemed that he was addressed for the way he was raising his daughter.

  • Polly
    2019-01-11 13:23

    This book had me from the first page! I read it in 2 days. It's about family relationships & how we deal with them. Sounds boring, but it by no means was.

  • Erin
    2019-01-21 11:32

    Amanda Janvier appears to be living a very good, stable life. She loves her work as a teacher, is married to a generous craftsman, and has two teenage children. But secrets lurk in the Janvier home. Does a secret ever do anyone any good? Are they always to best kept locked away from others?The Janviers take in their sixteen-year-old niece Tally while Amanda's brother is out of reach on a fortune hunt in Europe. Tally and her cousin Chase are close to the same age and a bond quickly forms when they realize their secrets are safe with the other. Tally joins Chase at school and soon becomes involves in a sociology project which requires an interview with a senior citizen. They choose a pair of elderly gentlemen who lived through World War II and the horrors of the Treblinka concentration camp. I loved the part of the story where the WWII tales came alive. As a history fan myself, it was both interesting for me to read and fun to see the characters letting it impact their own lives. It was a unique touch on the story and I liked it.Secrets of a childhood trauma haunt Chase. Amanda is increasingly troubled over the distance growing between the members in her family. Knowing that to speak of problems makes them real, she hesitates... but hesitation can make things worse. Is it better to pretend things are okay unless problems are too big to ignore? Meissner invites you to journey with the Janviers to find out if a path to healing and healthy relationships can be found behind the fronts they put up for the rest of the world.While you read, take a minute to think about the picket fences you may be keeping in your own life. We all know how to put up on a happy face. Maybe it is time to be real instead of pretend our lives are picture perfect. Maybe it is time to let God work in us for His purpose and give to us dreams beyond our imagination... maybe not perfect, but perfect for us.This review originally appeared at

  • Lori
    2018-12-23 07:29

    Winner of the 2009 Best Fiction for her book The Shape of Mercy, Susan Meissner does it again with her book White Picket Fences. I love how Meissner takes real life history and weaves it with a beautiful fictional story. In the book The Shape of Mercy she weaves the Salem Witch trials into her story, with White Picket Fences Meissner weaves the stories to two Holocaust survivors in with her fictional story of a family who seems to live the perfect life.The Janvier's live in a beautiful home, they each have great jobs along with two beautiful kids. They have the proverbial white picket fence around their life, but when Amanda Janvier takes in her sixteen year old niece Tally, hidden secrets begin to emerge. Amanda and Neil believe they can offer some stability to Tally, whose father (Amanda's brother) has disappeared, but Tally just may be the answer to heal some hidden secrets that lie behind the white picket fence.Chase Janvier, their teenage son, and Tally have not seen each other since they were young, and did not think having Tally around would affect him. But when they are paired up to complete a sociology project that includes two Holocaust survivors, hidden secrets begin to emerge and Chase relies on Tally's steady friendship. Despite Neil and Amanda's wishes to protect Chase, ignoring something tragic in the past won't make it go away. How can the lives of these two Holocaust survivors be the salvation Chase needs in his life?I have often said many people can write one great book, but it takes someone special to continue to write great books. Susan Meissner officially has become a favorite author of mine, she has proved herself as a great author who beautifully weaves history with fiction. Whatever Susan Meissner writes I will read!