Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Giveaway of 2009!

UPDATE 1/3/2010 @ 8:45 pm: WINNER!

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Timestamp: 2010-01-04 02:42:44 UTC

Congrats to A Stone Gatherer! Email me your address, Kim, and I'll send it on its way! Thanks to everyone for entering - more giveways coming soon!

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Mea culpa. I was cleaning out my email and realized I missed a blog tour a few weeks ago, and this one has a giveaway! I can't believe I did that, because I was eagerly awaiting the release of White Picket Fences after meeting Susan Meissner last spring, and I read the book just as soon as it arrived in my mailbox. I don't know how I missed getting it on my calendar.

I interviewed Susan at the Christian Book Expo and posted part of that interview here, but saved her discussion of White Picket Fences for this post. Here's what she said:

It's about a contemporary family with the iconic perfect life from the outside – the white picket fence life: good jobs, parents who love each other, a boy, a girl, a dog, a minivan. They’ve even convinced themselves everything is fine. But one of the kids has some powerful and painful memories and no one wants to talk about it because to do so would be to admit they don’t have the perfect life.

For the father especially, he's created this perfect world for his family and doesn't want to consider that maybe there are some skeletons in the closet that need to come out, because then that would shatter this illusion that he's been able to create a perfect home for his family that he loves.

Is the father responsible for the bad memories?

No, it's nothing that he did. It's what he's not doing now that's making it worse. So I spend 400 pages getting these people to deal with it, because it's going to destroy them if they don't.

So how do you come up with your ideas for your books?

I kinda have created a brand for myself with taking a contemporary setting and then bringing in a historical thread. And sometimes the historical thread is very obvious, and sometimes it's subtle. With White Picket Fences there are two secondary characters that interact with my primary characters, and these two secondary characters are survivors of the Warsaw ghetto - a Catholic and a Jew - and they are now living in a nursing home together. My main characters are teenagers and they go visit them for a school project. And it's through the recollection of living out the Warsaw ghetto and being sent to Treblinka, which is a Polish concentration camp where almost a million Jews were slaughtered. So as they are relaying their experience for this Social Studies project, it's revealing to the two teenagers what happens when you bury ugliness because you don't want to look at it. And that's what this teenage boy's family is doing. They want to bury the ugliness and pretend it never happened, because if you look at it then you have to deal with it.

Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.

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.

Readers of emotional dramas that are willing to explore the lies that families tell each other for protection and comfort will love White Picket Fences. The novel is ideal for those who appreciate exploring questions like: what type of honesty do children need from their parents, or how can one move beyond a past that isn’t acknowledged or understood? Is there hope and forgiveness for the tragedies of our past and a way to abundant grace?

Susan Meissner cannot remember a time when she wasn’t driven to put her thoughts down on paper. Her novel The Shape of Mercy was a Publishers Weekly pick for best religious fiction of 2008 and a Christian Book Award finalist. Susan and her husband live in Southern California, where he is a pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. They are the parents of four grown children.

Like her other books, this is a compelling story. I was a little nervous going into it because I wasn't sure what that "bad memory" involved. (I was a little concerned it might have been of an abusive nature, but it was nothing like that.) The way Susan wove the historical thread into the story was interesting and provided another layer to the story; I was not familiar with the Warsaw ghetto prior to reading this book. This is a book that gives much to ponder after the last page is turned.

You can learn more about the book, read an excerpt, and purchase it here.

I have a brand-new copy of this book for one of you. Just leave a comment on this post by Sunday (1/3/10) at 6:00 pm CST and I will draw a winner. Be sure to include an email address if you don't have a blog. US and Canada residents only, please.

Many thanks - and apologies for my delinquent posting! - to Waterbrook Multnomah for providing copies for my review and to give away.


View blog reactions


Jonnie (JB) said...

I love this type of book and would love to read this one.


quilly said...

Me! Me! Me! And I have an address now!

Linda Bob Grifins Korbetis Hall said...

Thank you for sharing a book,
it is the best gift of all,
Happy New Year!

ruth stiles said...

sign me up for this one! Happy new Year!

A Stone Gatherer said...

It sounds great to me! I think I will add it to my book club list. I would love to read about why burying ugly secrets affects us. That is something my extended family has done quite well, and to show for it we are splintered. BTW I just got done reading "Healing Stones", and have ordered Healing waters, before I read Healing sands. Thanks for recommending them.

sara said...

this sounds like a great book! count me in!

Happy New Year's Eve!!!

Jessica said...

Fantastic giveaway! I read Shape of Mercy a few months ago and really loved it. Would love to read this!

Happy New Year!

Deborah said...

I would love to read the Book!


Cathy said...

I would love an opportunity to read this book.

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Kim said...

A great way to end the year! A good book with a GREAT cup of Mocha! ;)

Blessings for the new year for you and those you love!


My ADHD Me said...

WOW. I have a feeling that this book will hit home with a lot of people.

I would love to read it.

Barbara H. said...

I've been eyeing this book and would love to win a copy.

♪♪Melody♪♪ and Puddin said...

Sounds like a book I would love to read. Count me in. Thanks so much.

Linda said...

This looks like a great book :) Thank you very much for the giveaway!
Happy New Year!

jamiely78 said...

This book sounds great. I have not read Susan Meissner before, so I just took a peek@ a few other books online and they all sound great. Thank you for introducing me to a new author.

Anonymous said...

Drama? Historical thread? Written by a chaplain's wife? (Her name sounds very familiar...)
I'm in!!

And I promise that if I win, I'll mail it to Quilly when I'm done reading it myself. :)

Virginia C said...

Happy New Year, Linda! Thanks for this giveaway.

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Samantha said...

Great give-away,would love to read !!
Happy New Year !

Ceci G. said...

Having spent the last six months of the years dealing with the family secrets, bad memories, and lies, this book sounds very intriguing! Sign me up! Hopefully, it won't hit too close to home ;)

Happy New Year!

2cats said...

I am trying to broaden the scope of what I read.This book sounds like it was written for that purpose.

Jan said...

This book sounds great, please count me in too! Happy New Year


windycindy said...

I adore the writing of Susan Meissner. I have not read this book of hers, yet! The cover is wonderful.
Many thanks and Have a Happy New Year!

Mary Lou said...

I love this kind of book. Thanks for doing this.

Mary Lou

Lisa Spence said...

Pick me! :-)

Beverlydru said...

It's never too late to read one of your reviews or to WIN a book! This sounds great!