Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blog Tour: White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner


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 Thoughts

The 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.

About the Author

(excerpts from her blog) I was born and raised in San Diego, California, and am the second of three daughters. I didn't do a lot of writing in the years my husband was on active duty in the Air Force, when we were living overseas, or when we were raising our four children. When we moved to rural Minnesota in 1993 after seven years in the Air Force — five of them spent in Europe — I became aware of a gnawing desire to write a novel.

In 1995, I was offered a job as a part-time reporter for my county newspaper. In 1998, I was named editor of the Mountain Lake/Butterfield Observer Advocate. I was honored to win several awards over the years, but the best part of my four years as editor was having my paper named the Best Weekly Newspaper in Minnesota by the Minnesota Newspaper Association in 2002.

My beloved paternal grandfather died in July 2002 — my Papa — and his passing had a profound effect on me. I suddenly had an incredible urge to write a book; a novel. I knew I didn't want to come to the end of my life having only dreamed of writing one. I resigned as editor of the newspaper, which was a very hard decision to make, and set out to write Why the Sky is Blue. It took four months to write and ten months to be accepted by a publisher and I’ve been writing novels ever since. My favorite genre is contemporary fiction with a historical thread running through it.

Currently, my husband is an associate pastor at a church in San Diego, and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. When I'm not working on a new novel, I am directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. I also enjoy teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, as well as spending time with my family, listening to or making music, reading great books, and traveling.

Susan Meissner

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for a review copy of this book.

Author’s website

How to purchase


  1. I saw this at Borders and it really looks wonderful, but I didn't get it. After reading your review, I think I will.

  2. Everyone seems to like this book and I can see why - it sounds great. Your review is fantastic!

  3. The cover is so appealing, I'm glad the book is good too.


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