The First Lie by Diane Chamberlain
Series: Prequel to Necessary Lies
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin
Publish Date: June 4, 2013
Find it here: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
The First Lie gives readers an early glimpse into the life of thirteen-year-old Ivy Hart. It’s 1958 in rural North Carolina, where Ivy lives with her grandmother and sister on a tobacco farm. As tenant farmers, Ivy and her family don’t have much freedom, though she and her best friend, Henry, often sneak away in search of adventure…and their truest selves. But life on the farm takes a turn when Ivy’s teenage sister gives birth—all the while maintaining her silence about the baby’s father. Soon Ivy finds herself navigating the space between adolescence and adulthood as she tries to unravel a dark web of family secrets and make sense of her ever-evolving life in the segregated South. -(summary excerpt from Goodreads)
My Thoughts: You guys are going to have to color me intrigued with the upcoming Necessary Lies after taking the time to read this short prequel enovella entitled The First Lie.
First of all, I was captivated by the summary, in which it mentions a young girl living with her grandmother and older-but-still-young sister on a tobacco farm in rural North Carolina back in the late 1950’s. Now, I know this state, and I know how this state was back then (read; segregated, large poor demographic, etc), so as I just simply read the story, my mind was spinning on how this story would play out – particularly with a title like The First Lie and a cover like that. It mentions that they are tenant farmers and my curiosity only increases at what this implies. But it’s the mention of 13-year-old main character Ivy Hart sneaking off with her best friend Henry for adventures – that’s where I was sold. I remember being thirteen and I remember how hard that was – that age, the coming-of-age, being needed for help around the house but desperately wanting to cling to childhood. I loved reading these little glimpses into Ivy and Henry and their time spent together on their adventures, even though they both knew they could get into trouble if they were caught.
But this part of this short story doesn’t last very long, you see. Ivy’s older sister Mary Ella is in the family way and it getting harder and harder to hide. In fact, pretty much everyone knows it and they also know that she isn’t married. Shunned, basically. When Ivy comes home one night – WAY TOO LATE – from her latest adventure with Henry, she finds Mary Ella screaming and writhing in pain – and it isn’t even time for the baby to come! Ivy receives instructions from her grandmother to retrieve a phone number written on a tiny slip of paper – she is to ride her bike to a neighboring house (Henry’s house, coincidentally and use their phone to call the number on the paper. A social worker. Not the nurse, but a social worker? Even Ivy is wary of this and she feels like something is going on but she can’t quite figure out what it is.
Ivy can’t wrap her head around this. Why would they need a social worker when Mary Ella is obviously in distress, labor even? What can the social worker do to deliver the baby? But after having some words with her grandmother about this, she obeys and makes it to the house. As it is during the middle of the night, Henry’s family guesses right away what the visit is for and allows her the use of the phone – as Henry’s father would normally be the one to drive Mary Ella to the hospital (they don’t have a car), he is currently sick and unavailable for this task. Henry is sent to a neighboring farm to request that Eli drive Mary Ella instead.
The problem with this? Eli is a person of color. AND Henry and Ivy also suspect that Eli could be the father of the baby. Things are certainly getting interesting and stressful and all Ivy knows is that her sister is in pain, in distress, and she just needs to get to the hospital AND FAST.
Eli arrives in a truck, gently and easily carries Mary Ella to the bed of the truck and places her there gently so she can lay down on the way to the hospital, and drives as gently as possible to avoid her as much trauma as possible. This entire time, Ivy’s head is just working, working, working through every possibility and circumstance about Eli being the possible father, why the baby could be coming early, and why on earth the social worker is needed at the hospital instead of the nurse that has been helping them with their case all along. Ivy is very young to understand everything, to entirely the “why’s” of what is going on in the 1950’s rural south and even more, she resents that she feels like she isn’t getting the entire truth from all of the adults involved. However, she is picking up bits and pieces of conversation between her grandmother and the social worker, and what she is hearing – well, she doesn’t like one bit.
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? -(summary excerpt from Goodreads)