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Once Upon A Lie by Michael French

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MY REVIEW: 4*

Alexandra, a white girl living with her family in a very affluent area.  Parents are wealthy, throw social parties at their lakeside house.

Jaleel, a black boy whose parents have been killed, wanted for a crime he didn’t commit, living arrangements are in a squat.

Events bring these two different people together.  Their backgrounds are poles apart, but they form a friendship based on trust and acceptance, not on their race, upbringing or financial status.

Alex has everything she wants, the daughter of a top lawyer, his wife an outgoing and beautiful socialite.  All Alex’s wardrobe choices are because her mother has deemed them acceptable for her daughter to be seen in, including make up, and to a certain point the items in her bedroom.  When Alex decides she wants to be a bit of a rebel, she cycles to a rougher neighbourhood up the road.  It’s here she meets Jaleel selling lemonade, why would an 18-year-old sell lemonade ?

Jaleel has a story that shows the harsh realities of growing up in a racist world.  Becomes evident when he is accused of murdering his father.  The facts of the case are completely overlooked by the detective in charge, who decides what happened rather than heed what Jaleel has told him.  Jaleel spends the next few years being anonymous, keeping his head down.  He assumes another name so he can complete his education, selling lemonade is one way of being able to do this and live. Things are okay, until he forms a friendship with Alex.

This story is a murder and mystery of sorts.  But in truth it is a look at how society views people who are different to themselves.  This book explores various themes, such as ;- racial prejudice and inequality, prejudice, social and family dynamics, and of course racism.  I was very surprise by this book in a good way, the topics discussed are woven very well into the story.  There is a good cast of characters as well as a good story with some very good plot twists thrown in leading to a good conclusion.

This would be a good book for readers of general fiction, I would recommend this book.

I would like to thank Readers House for putting me in touch with this author and his book

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

“A simple cup of lemonade unites two lives, leading to a maze of adultery and murder that shatters Alex’s youthful innocence and Jaleel’s struggle to reshape his life. While the forces of the law try to unravel a mysterious death (or at least find a scapegoat) the two youths see the trajectories of their lives entwine, unravel, and come together again.” -Midwest Book Review

Once Upon a Lie is about two strangers who become unlikely friends, only to unintentionally put each other’s life in jeopardy. Jaleel Robeson, a gifted, eighteen year-old black man, falsely accused of murdering his father in a small Texas town, is on the run. He assumes a new identity in 1980s Los Angeles as a successful student on his way to college. Alexandra Baten, a restless sixteen year old white girl, lives in a privileged Toluca Lake family but feels trapped by her parents’ values. One weekend, she rides her bike into a run down neighborhood, meeting a young black man selling lemonade. Thus begins a friendship between opposites, at least on the surface, but they learn they have more in common than they imagine. Told from each character’s point of view in alternating chapters, we become involved in a gripping tale of two Americas where discontent and violence always lurk under the surface. When they erupt, no one is safe. Once Upon a Lie is both a family drama and a crime drama, as well as an exploration of interracial love, mother-daughter relationships, and redemption through courage.

BOOK DETAILS:

Paperback, 388 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by Terra Nova Books
ISBN 1938288653 (ISBN13: 9781938288654)
Edition Language English
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
#1 Amazon best selling author Michael French graduated from Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is an avid high-altitude mountain trekker, as well as a collector of first editions of twentieth-century fiction.

He has published twenty-four books, including fiction, young adult fiction, biographies, and art criticism. His novel, Abingdon’s, was a bestseller and a Literary Guild Alternate Selection. His young adult novel, Pursuit, was awarded the California Young Reader Medal.

The Reconstruction of Wilson Ryder was published January 2013.

Mountains Beyond Mountains was published April 2013.

Once Upon a Lie was published March 2016.

Book details, synosis and about author are from Goodreads website.
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