I don’t often give any book a five-star review, but this book makes the grade. A lot of things have to be present for me to give a book five stars, and Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain has ticked all the boxes.
I devoured this story! It’s full of rich characters who will pull you in and hold on tight as you travel through the pages. The characters may be fictional, but the premise of this story is rooted in true historical facts. It centers on the event in our history when Eugenics was practiced (1929-1975), the sterilization of people of low I.Q., low income (on welfare), or who suffered from certain medical disabilities. It was often done without consent or even knowledge on the part of the victim. Some did appreciate and in fact ask for sterilization, but many did not.
At first glance, it seems obvious that eugenics was a horrible practice. But as you read this book, you’ll be challenged to see the practice of sterilization through the point of view of a variety of characters.
I loved this story and all the characters, but I’m most impressed with how it forced me to think. I found myself asking how I felt about the ethics of the practice, not just a simple agree or disagree level of thinking. Most of the women in particular had no idea they were being sterilized. They were told lies like they needed their appendix out, or their tubes would be clipped during childbirth without their knowledge. That’s terrifying. No matter how a person might feel about why sterilization is necessary in any given case, it’s a basic right, in my opinion, to let a person decide that fate for themselves. But many readers will likely disagree. As you read, you’ll see why the issue was complicated and mired in reasoning that made sense to people at the time.
I highly recommend this book for its engaging storytelling, the richness of characters, and the thought-provoking subject matter. You won’t be disappointed.