Short Story Review: The First Lie

The First Lie
Published By: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Page Count: 35
Buy it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Adult - Historical Fiction

The First Lie is a brief snippet to set up the forthcoming novel, Necessary Lies. I have never read Diane Chamberlain before, but I was pleasantly surprised. 

The short story begins when Ivy, a preteen, sneaks into her house in the wee hours of the morning after being out her best friend. The pair had found their church unlocked and had stumbled inside, Ouija board in tow. After scaring themselves silly, the pair rush home before anyone wakes to find them gone, but Ivy walks into more than she bargained for when she finds that her older sister, Mary Ella, is about to deliver her baby. It's too soon and Ivy doesn't know what to do. Her grandmother's harsh voice hollers directions and Ivy races to get help.

I'm excited to continue reading Ivy's story when the novel is released in September. In this brief portrait,  I was able to learn about Ivy and her family. These characters do not have an easy life. I can't recall reading any other novels about tenant farmers; this will allow me to learn more about that lifestyle.

Also, due to the time period and location (North Carolina in 1958), race will play a prominent role. There are glimpses of segregation in this story. Rumors swirl about the paternity of Mary Ella's baby. Folks say it belongs to Eli, a young African American man, that lives on the same property. Mary Ella refuses to tell the identity of the father, but the whole town is gossiping about her. At only fifteen, Mary Ella will have a difficult road ahead of her, but things will only be worse if her child is multiracial.

One Last Gripe: I understood the grandmother's reasonings for what she does to Mary Ella, but it upset me a lot.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: This is a side of the South I don't much about beyond what I've read in history books. It will be interesting to experience this lifestyle through the eyes of a fictional character. 

First Sentence: I leaned my bike against our lopsided porch and tiptoed up the steps, still real shaky from the last few hours.

Favorite Character: Ivy

Least Favorite Character: This was too short for me to dislike anyone.

The First Lie gives readers an early glimpse into the life of thirteen-year-old Ivy Hart. It’s 1958 in rural North Carolina, where Ivy lives with her grandmother and sister on a tobacco farm. As tenant farmers, Ivy and her family don’t have much freedom, though she and her best friend, Henry, often sneak away in search of adventure…and their truest selves. But life on the farm takes a turn when Ivy’s teenage sister gives birth—all the while maintaining her silence about the baby’s father. Soon Ivy finds herself navigating the space between adolescence and adulthood as she tries to unravel a dark web of family secrets and make sense of her ever-evolving life in the segregated South.  


  1. Sounds like a great setting. I'll have to check this out. I'm a sucker for historical fiction. Thanks!

    1. It's just a snippet, but I'm really looking forward to the novel, Necessary Lies, now.


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