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I daresay that anyone who could read A Fearful Lie, by Jean Fournier Johnson, and not walk away with tears in their eyes is missing something quintessentially . . . human. Gloria, a perfectly normal person with a perfectly normal life, husband, children and home, stops one day for a quick drink. Unfortunately, she has one too many before she heads home. Along the way, momentarily distracted, she hits and kills three-year old Joshua. She removes his body from the road, then leaves the scene, having convinced herself that her policeman husband and her daughters ought not pay for her crime. As the years then unfold, Gloria seeks forgiveness—but before she can find it, she must first face “truth.” Her journey to find both is a painful one, but one that is oh-so-worth following.
In the law, there is something we call “jury nullification.” It is the idea that juries, after having been told the law that is to be applied to the facts of a case presented them at trial, might refuse to follow that law. Sometimes this occurs because the jurors can see themselves in the same situation. In the past it was not all that uncommon to occur in situations of drinking and driving, because so many could see themselves in the same situation. They could not bring themselves to render a “guilty” verdict when they believed the same could have happened to them. I believe that has changed over the years. Even so, I imagine many will identify in some way with Gloria—I think because she is so “normal.” She makes a terrible decision that changes her life and the lives of others, for all time. What she finds at the end of her journey is . . . Well, I guess you will have to read A Fearful Lie, to find out for yourself. You will be glad that you did.