The Stories We Tell by Patti Callahan Henry

Being a true Southerner means keeping up appearances at all costs. As a result, many Southern couples put on pretenses and sometimes lead double lives. In The Stories We Tell by Patti Callahan Henry, Eve and Cooper Morrison are that golden couple, seemingly leading the ideal life as the cream of Savannah society. But, things are not always as they seem. This powerful novel about the value of truth focuses on the Morrison family and the one night that changed the dynamics of their family forever.

From the outside, it appears the Morrison's have it all. Cooper runs an exclusive digital magazine featuring all things Southern gentlemen, and Eve has her own letterpress printing company. They have a beautiful daughter, Gwen, who is in the midst of typical teenage adolescent angst. Eve's sister, Willa, is staying in the family cottage a few hundred yards from the main house until she can get back on her feet again. Cooper tolerates his sister-in-law but they have never been close. Then why were they in a car together on a rainy night that ended in a terrible car crash? Willa ends up with a traumatic brain injury resulting in memory loss, while Cooper sustains cuts to his face and scalp. He insists that Willa was drunk and he was driving her home to spare the family further embarrassment when she grabbed the steering wheel and they crashed into a tree. Being the good Southern wife that she is, Eve easily accepts Cooper's version of what happened, until more and more things he tells her just don't add up. If Willa was drunk or on drugs, why did her toxicology report come back clean? Does Eve want to know the truth, or is the unknown better to stay unknown? After all, confrontations, public arguments or anything that can cause a scene are just not supposed to happen - it is just not the Southern way.

I really liked this book and think it would make a great book club choice. I enjoy reading family stories with a Southern setting, and in The Stories We Tell the author peels back the layers of family life to show us a perfect Savannah family that is anything but perfect. Lies can hurt an entire family and turn them against each other until they simply must be acknowledged - Southern way or not. She makes us look at our own lives and wonder what kind of lies do we accept to make life easier?

 

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