Little White Lies
Aakenbaaken & Kent (2022)
Reviewed by Stephanie Elizabeth Long for Reader Views (03/2023)
After African-American mayoral candidate Dr. Marcus Freedman’s office is bombed, it causes a media frenzy. Thankfully, Freedman is located, but his assistant Jason O’Dell isn’t so lucky. Claire Conover, a child welfare worker, becomes embroiled in the investigation when the DHS reports Jason’s infant daughter, Maddie, has no next of kin. The waters get even murkier when it is revealed that Dr. Freedman is the maternal grandfather; Maddie’s mother was an addict and died months after having the baby.
Jason O’Dell was in hiding, living under an assumed identity, severing ties with his wealthy family, the Alsbrooks, who owned many of the mines in Alabama. These people did not hide their racism and did not take kindly to their son being involved with a black drug addict. Amidst helping find baby Maddie proper care, Claire has agreed to foster a thirteen-year-old troubled girl who is causing friction in her relationship.
Will Claire solve the mystery of who killed Jason while keeping her sanity and relationship intact? Read and find out!
“Little White Lies” by Margaret Fenton captured my attention with an intriguing storyline that never wavered throughout. The book is written from the first-person perspective. It follows Claire as she navigates her work with child welfare, fostering a child, and dealing with relationship drama. Beyond that, the story delves deep into the skewed beliefs and racially motivated crime within Alabama.
I voraciously tore through the pages of this immersive book in one sitting; it was the ultimate escape from reality! I loved piecing together the clues from this political mystery—each chapter getting me closer to unearthing the truth about who was responsible for the bombing. Was the perpetrator actually targeting Dr. Freedman or Jason? Would it put Maddie in harm’s way? I was very much invested in peeling back the layers to expose the nefarious players.
In addition to piecing the mystery together, the author did an excellent job of illustrating conflict within a relationship. For example, the challenge of fostering a teen caused palpable tension between Grant and Claire, especially given that it was an impulsive decision made by Claire. Between setting boundaries, discipline, and the plight of living with a troubled teen, it was apparent difficulties would arise and alter the couple’s dynamic.
“Little White Lies” had all the necessary ingredients for a deliciously immersive mystery—perfect pacing, well-developed characters, and puzzling clues to uncover. Readers interested in books about racial disparity and familial dysfunction will be quickly immersed in the story.