We know from the start that Lucy's husband, Matt, kidnapped their two children, two-year-old Nathan and four-year-old Sarah. In the prologue, it is 1990. Lucy is arriving home from a librarian conference, to the house the four family members once shared. On the plane, her seatmate asks her if she has children.
"Two," Lucy says. "A boy and a girl. Today's my son's birthday."
She doesn't tell the stranger that there will be no cake or presents from her on this, his ninth birthday. She hasn't seen either child in exactly six years, seven months and 15 days.
When she reaches home, the house is empty except for Lucy's dog and cat. She writes in the journal she keeps, addressing each entry to her long-gone children. Then she huddles in bed, reading Nathan's favorite picture book.
"I found LIES YOU WANTED TO HEAR hard to resist, singing its siren call to me whenever I was attending to work/home/family necessities... James Whitfield Thomson's storytelling prowess pulled me in: I had to find out what happened to these people."
Our hearts go out to this heartsick mother, at least temporarily. Delving into the past, both Lucy and Matt tell their sides of the story, beginning with the Lucy of July 1977. In those long-ago times, she is distraught for a different reason. Griffin, the man she is in love with, abandoned her four months ago --- three hours after she endured the unwanted abortion of their child, a baby she had half-hoped would unite them forever. Now, her best friend Jill insists she meet a friend of Jill's husband. The friend, Matt, is a Boston cop. Lucy doesn't tell Jill that she has already been out, picking up men for temporary hook-ups. Reluctantly, Lucy agrees to the blind date.
Officer Matt Drobyshev is intrigued when his buddy Terry's wife Jill insists he meet her friend, Lucy, especially after she says Lucy "has an edge." He could use a bit of grit in a woman following his latest fling, a shallow, eternally sunny young lady who couldn't bear to hear the details of Matt's job. On his way to meet Lucy for drinks, he spots a stunner in a partially transparent mini-dress. Matt is ecstatic when he discovers that this head-turner is Lucy, and he falls head over heels in a very short time.
Lucy, however, finds Matt to be a bit average after the sizzling love affair she enjoyed with the scintillating, if not exactly trustworthy, Griffin. Of course, Griffin is gone, so she doesn't hesitate to enter into an affair with Matt. But when Griffin unexpectedly shows up, she takes off with him, sharing his bed and his dope, even though she is breaking an important date with Matt --- and she happens to be pregnant with Matt's baby. Later, even as she tells Matt about the baby and agrees to marry him, we wonder: Can Lucy change?
I found LIES YOU WANTED TO HEAR hard to resist, singing its siren call to me whenever I was attending to work/home/family necessities --- which is curious because I truly felt no connection to either of the main characters (even Matt, whose actions are not in the same despicable league as many of Lucy's). I also found some of the minutiae about Matt and Lucy's individual lives to be a little too well detailed. However, author James Whitfield Thomson's storytelling prowess pulled me in: I had to find out what happened to these people. Although the story pops back and forth between the past and several eras later, and are relayed in turn by Lucy and Matt, I never found these shifts to be confusing.
All in all, this is an engrossing read about complicated characters whose decisions cause us to ponder the many degrees between right and wrong.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on December 7, 2013