Friday, April 06, 2007

Reviewing White Lies

It's been a while since I've talked about Sarah Honenberger's book, "White Lies." When last I talked to the author (who was doing some touring for the book), it had just about sold through its first pressing, and a second printing seemed like a distinct possibility.

I finished reading "White Lies" a month ago, and it was a great experience. I pretty much read the last third non-stop, wanting to know what happened next.

Its a different kind of book than I normally read (my wife says that's an improvement). While some of the publicity and the reviews may suggest its a story about the coverups surrounding children damaged by manditory immunization, it's not the primary thrust of the narrative. This isn't the "Pelican Brief."

The book concerns itself with the mother of one such victim, and how her story impacts the life of her lawyer. "White Lies" traces the development of these two women, their relationship and how they change as the case moves its way through court.

Honenberger is an effective storyteller, writing with transparent prose. This keeps things moving along. The narrative efficiently says what it needs to, packing a great deal of information into very brief chapters.

The author draws on her experience as a practicing attorney to make the courtroom scenes realistic and believable. She also effectively explains in layman's terms the problems and legal concepts behind the lawsuit that drives the story.

If I have one complaint, it's that I felt the story ended about a chapter too soon. There's a compelling subplot involving the lawyer's son that gets resolved offstage in the epilogue. I really wanted to know more firsthand details about how he and his family resolved his conflict.

If you're looking for a story that rips the lid off the immunization coverup, then you need to keep looking. But if you want an examination of the personal cost of this, and how it impacts the lives of a family and community, then I highly recommend "White Lies."

And that's the truth.

- Ralph


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sarah Collins Honenberger said...
    As the author, I'm sending thanks and a bit of news on vaccine issue side. I met with Dr. Diane Harper in Hanover, NH the morning after my presentation at the Dartmouth Bookstore (a B & N). She handled the Gardasil trials for Merck at Dartmouth Medical Center, that's the new hpv vaccine conveniently labeled cervical cancer vaccine in the media. I wanted to get my facts right on the new vaccine since there had been so much confusion in the coverage in the states where Merck was lobbying for it being mandatory and linked to school attendance for 11-12 yr old girls. Also wanted to confirm my conclusion in White Lies that the government's failure to require the safe shot in 1988 when they set up the compensation fund was based on their not wanting to pay the extra cost of $12 something a shot for all the medicaid babies. She said I was exactly right. She also just wrote to say she finished the book, loved it, and particularly loved Lacy, the feisty mother of the injured baby. She was pleased that the story is being told in such an accessible form, fiction, and with such credible characters. And I had a marvelous drive down the coast in my convertible, all the way from NH to VA with the top down, sunny, and listening to Katie Mehlua and William and Mary's Gentlemen of the College at full blast.