Once Upon a Lie by Michael French


Once Upon A Lie
Michael French
Published by: Terra Nova Books
Expected Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Murder Mystery

Once Upon a Lie  is about a smart, ambitious sixteen year old, Alexandra, who chooses to keep silent when she learns terrible secrets about both her father and her mother, whom she grew up adoring.

The price of keeping her “perfect” family together soon unravels her well-planned future, and puts in jeopardy the life of a young stranger whom she befriends and ultimately falls in love with.  We learn how your life can end at any time, and it can end more than once.  And then it can be saved.


I was fortunate to be one of the lucky people to receive an advanced copy of the book to review. As I have never read anything of Michael’s before I was really glad to discover a new author.

Suffice to say that I do not think I have read anything like Once Upon a Lie in a long long time.  It was quite simply an uber fascinating page-turner.

Though I will admit I had a bit of a hard time getting into it, which has most to do with where my head was at than anything wrong with the book (I was shattered from a super busy week of work), I was surprised to see that the book was sectioned between the 2 main characters’ PoV.  In the recent months all you get is pretty much a switch of PoV per chapter between the 2 main protagonists, but for sure that was different.  Interesting different.

As I am one of those people who like fast pace and getting to the point quickly, well I so did not get that here. It took a lot of back story and build up to get to the actual point of the drama.  If I recall correctly, I had to wait till I was a little past mid book to get to the good stuff.

I would tell you but then I would hate to spoil the book for you.  I admit, this is not what I would call a fast and easy light read.  Be prepared to take your time my friends.

Yep, this is real!

I mean, it felt real to me like something that could have happened next door or the neighbouring town.

We are also talking very detailed and quite descriptive, a couple of places reminded me of Stieg Larsson’s detailed descriptions of a macbook or my own high school personal nightmares of Honore de Balzac’s insane 5-pages long detailed descriptions of a door knob (Monsieur de Balzac I know why you had to, but it doesn’t mean I had to like it!!!).  As usual, I am going off on a tangent but I promise it isn’t as bad as Balzac… see I promise.

There is a  complicated relationship between both characters Jaleel and Alex, but there is also Alex’s parents her little brother and then there is Dirick.  Him, I loved from the second he graced us with his presence and page until the very last mention.

The uncompromising elements of social injustice in the US during that time period are very realistic.  When I think about it, and we look at what is going on today; it makes me sad to see that nothing has truly changed.  Though I have never come face to face with anything remotely similar, I realise that we never learn or grow.  There I got a little philosophical here!

This is one book you want to take your time with, and savour every page.

I will tell you though that there are a few twists, especially one at the end that I did not see coming, but I think that anyone who reads it will most definitely enjoy it and in case I did not make myself clear: I highly recommend it!


Mom hurried to put in a load of wash and organize dinner. Her focus was usually like a laser beam, but on this afternoon, she had spaced out that I was in the house. When I picked up the kitchen phone to call Joyce, I overheard her talking from her bedroom extension.

“No, no, you’re not listening,” the man said in an upset voice.  I recognized the voice of Charlie Diggs.

“I am listening,” my mother insisted.

“Julia nags me, day and night, about her biological clock.”

“I thought you two agreed you weren’t having children.”

“We did agree. Isn’t that the point? She doesn’t even realize when she changes her mind.”

“I’m sorry she makes you miserable.”

“Louis doesn’t know how lucky he is,” Charlie added. “Jesus, what you have to go through with him. He should treat you better, Gloria.  Does he know how much I love you? Why can’t you get up the courage and tell him?”

“Oh, Charlie, poor Charlie,” my mother responded whenever his voice fell silent.

Mom was still on the phone when I burst into her room. She knew instantly that I’d heard everything. Charlie was still talking as she hung up.

“Mom, what are you doing?! What’s going on?!” My face was hot and cold at the same time.

All she could do was stare back helplessly, like a ghost haunting her own life.


Author’s Bio:

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.

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