Once Upon A Lie
By Michael French
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 while 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.
I read a lot of books and I can't remember the last time a book has left me with so many feelings. Michael French is a wonderful writer. I felt he really placed me into the scenes. I found myself cringing through some of the encounters Jaleel faced as a young black man. It hurt my heart. And while Alex comes from an extremely privileged family, I did like her very much. She maintained compassion and humility throughout the novel.
These two characters connect in a super emotional way. Through drama and corruption, they both stay together and grow with each other. Alex faces just as much pain as Jaleel which I think shows despite where you come from, everyone faces similar trials.
I appreciate that the author didn't end this deep story in a happily ever after kind of way. It feels real. It haunts you in the best way possible.
Michael R. French graduated from Stanford University where he was an English major, focusing on creative writing, and studied under Wallace Stegner. He received a Master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He later served in the United States Army before marrying Patricia Goodkind, an educator and entrepreneur, and starting a family. In addition to publishing over twenty titles, including award-winning young adult fiction, adult fiction, biographies ad self-help books, he has written or co-written a half-dozen screenplays, including Intersection, which has won awards in over twenty film festivals. He has also had a long business career in real estate, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His passions include travel, collecting rare books, and hanging with friends and family. He describes his worst traits as impatience and saying "no" too quickly; his best are curiosity, taking risks, and learning from failure.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-French/e/B001ITYVES