Susan Meissner is a lyrical, beautiful writer. Her The Shape of Mercy is one of my favorite books from 2008. I've started White Picket Fences, but have not had the chance to finish it yet. Look for a review as soon as I finish it. However, I can tell you that it has the feel of The Shape of Mercy. There are multiple, complex characters, each with much to lose. And they are cast together in a way that their lives are intertwined like the spiderweb that graces the fence on the cover.
Here's more about this book:
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?