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