Necessary Lies

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Published by: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Pages: 352
ISBN13: 978-1250010698


After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed.  She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients' lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband.  But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed.  Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.

Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy.  Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?


"In this powerful novel, Chamberlain peels back the disturbing truths about the eugenics sterilization program implemented in North Carolina during the 1960s...  Book groups and fans of Jodi Picoult should appreciate this work.”
Library Journal, starred review 

"Absorbing and haunting, this should strongly touch Chamberlain’s fans and draw those who enjoy Jodi Picoult and Barbara Delinsky."

". . . heart-wrenching historical fiction. . . captivating. . .this engrossing novel digs deep into the moral complexity of a dark period in history and brings it to life."
—Publishers Weekly

"A well-researched page-turner.  The stakes mount to dizzying heights . . . Chamberlain certainly knows how to escalate tension."
—Kirkus Reviews

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Reading Guide

"The First Lie," a short story 

Audio Sample


By Diane Chamberlain
June 22, 2011

It was an odd request--visit a stranger's house and peer inside a closet—and as I drove through the neighborhood searching for the address, I felt my anxiety mounting. There it was: number two-forty-seven. I hadn't expected the house to be so large. It stood apart from its neighbors on the gently winding road, flanked on either side by huge magnolia trees, tall oaks and crape myrtle. Painted a soft buttery yellow with white trim, everything about it looked crisp and clean in the early morning sun. Every house I'd passed, although different in architecture, had the same stately yet inviting look. I didn't know Raleigh well at all, but this had to be one of the most beautiful old neighborhoods in the city.

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