Everybody's Talking About Finding Love in Unimaginable Places

Wednesday, July 06, 2016
Once Upon a Lie is a story about family secrets, deciding between loyalty and the right thing to do, and also, finding love when you least expected it. We're helping author Michael French celebrate the recent release of his twenty-fourth novel by gathering some of our favorite bloggers to share their stories of finding love in unimaginable places. Michael shares his thoughts on the topic, along with a little background information on Once Upon a Lie.

Finding Love in Unimaginable Places

By Michael French

Once upon a Lie is a broad canvas, a Dickensian novel with multiple themes, characters and narrative. Pivotal to bringing the book to life were my memories of growing up in a wealthy Los Angeles enclave called Toluca Lake. I was very much like Alexandra Baten, one of the novel’s two protagonists, at odds with her mother’s nouveau riche ways and narcissistic isolation from what Alex calls the “real world.” When my family fell apart in an unexpected way (though not as cataclysmically as Alex’s), I couldn’t wait to leave home for good.

Once Upon a Lie is also about falling in love for the first time, under unlikely circumstances. For me, it was such a life-affirming experience, both for its mystery and overwhelming impact, that I remember every detail of my first kiss with the young woman I met purely by chance. With the right person, I think that an emotion explodes inside you and stays with you forever. In Once Upon a Lie, 16-year-old Alexandra has her heart ambushed by Jaleel, a smart, attractive black man, two years her senior, who is running from the law for a murder in Texas he didn’t commit. He has made a new life for himself in Los Angeles and is bound for a prestigious college. They meet by chance in a rundown neighborhood—two teenagers reflecting two Americas—rich and poor, black and white—with virtually nothing in common but a handful of ideals and writers they both like to read. Over the years their personal relationship grows intimate, and seemingly unbreakable, yet the ending of the novel is not tied in ribbons.

Both characters fight to survive in an adult world that rarely lives up to its promises and enticements. At the novel’s core, there is a disturbing mystery, based on family secrets, that turn Jaleel’s and Alex’s worlds upside down. Their trust in, and love for, each other sustains them through the upheaval. They learn that parents and friends will disappoint you in ways small and large, and in the end there is no one to count on but yourself and those you can truly trust. Real self-discovery may not come to us until our thirties and forties, but in this novel we glimpse how the seeds of our most important decisions, made in our teens and twenties, including falling in love, are deeply embedded.

As the novel bores into each character and his or her motivations, the story telling is fast-paced, with short chapters, alternating points of view of Alex and Jaleel, and multiple twists and turns. There are themes to ponder, humor to add to the realism, and when done with the book, I hope, the reader has something to think about.

Do you have a story about finding love in unexpected places? I'd love to hear it in the comments below.

About Once Upon a Lie:

Twelve-year-old Jaleel Robeson is on the run after the police in his tiny Texas town try to frame him for the death of his father. A world away, Alexandra “Alex” Baten is growing up amid all the material comforts a wealthy Los Angeles lawyer can provide. One day, a simple cup of lemonade unites their lives, leading to a maze of adultery and murder that shatters Alex’s youthful innocence and Jaleel’s struggle to reshape his life.

While the forces of the law try to unravel the mysterious death―or at least find a scapegoat―the two youths see the trajectories of their lives entwine, unravel, and come together again. Justice, Alex learns, can be a strange and nebulous thing, easily enmeshed in webs of loyalty and betrayal. Justice, Jaleel finds, can be a powerful―but dangerous―rock on which to build a life of honor and courage. As their stories play out over the years in cities far apart, best-selling author Michael French fills the world of Alex and Jaleel with a cast of vivid characters both supporting and threatening their efforts to build a life that “works” amid the expectancies of others and their own conflicting drives.

Paperback: 388 Pages
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (March 15, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1938288653
ISBN-13: 978-1938288654

Read a review of Once Upon a Lie on The Muffin here.

Want a chance to win your own copy? Visit all the other bloggers talking about finding love in unimaginable places today and leave a comment to enter. We will hold random drawings for all bloggers who participated, and blog commenters have a chance to win, too!

The blogs listed below have all decided to share their stories, essays, poems, photos, or other means of creative expression on the topic of finding love in unimaginable places. We really have no idea what bloggers will come up with, but we can't wait to find out! So check out the blogs listed below and see what they're up to!

Android After Forty 

Bev Baird

Bring on Lemons

Building Bookshelves


Chrys N. Jay

Cow Pasture Chronicles

Crochet Concupiscence

Flora Unplugged

Lisa M. Buske

The Literary Leotard

Lullabies and Deadlines

Lyn Jensen

Mare's Blog Blog

Platform Number 4

Renee's Pages

Writers Pay it Forward

We want to thank to all of our blogging friends for participating in this special day! Michael thanks you as well for sharing your amazingly creative stories.

Readers, please visit these wonderful blogs and check out their posts about finding love in unimaginable places. Remember to comment on any blog for a chance to win a copy of Once Upon a Lie!


Angela Mackintosh said...

I just visited all these blogs and I love the stories! All of them have unique takes on the theme and are so creative. Thanks so much for sharing!

Unknown said...

This was a fun task to get me writing something different- thanks :)

Anonymous said...

So much fun! These posts really touched me, some made me laugh, some made me cry. Thanks for helping us put together yet another awesome tour!

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