I know most of us are in Christmas prep mode, but I've managed to find enough downtime in the last few weeks to finish up my 20th book of 2020! Plus, we are headed off on a road trip after Christmas, so I know I'll have a little more time to read then, too. Last night I finished Lisa Wingate's The Book of Lost Friends. She is the author of Before We Were Yours, and this popped up as a recommendation for me to read.
Louisiana, 1875: In the tumultuous aftermath of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now-destitute plantation; Juneau Jane, her illegitimate free-born Creole half-sister; and Hannie, Lavinia's former slave. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following dangerous roads rife with ruthless vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and eight siblings before slavery's end, the pilgrimage westward reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the seemingly limitless frontiers of Texas and, improbably, hope.
Louisiana, 1987: For first-year teacher Benedetta Silva, a subsidized job at a poor rural school seems like the ticket to canceling her hefty student debt—until she lands in a tiny, out-of-step Mississippi River town. Augustine, Louisiana, seems suspicious of new ideas and new people, and Benny can scarcely comprehend the lives of her poverty-stricken students. But amid the gnarled live oaks and run-down plantation homes lies the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything.
I really enjoyed this book. Hannie and Benny are strong female characters who persevere despite having many roadblocks placed in front of them. As a former teacher, I related to Benny's character in several ways, and I loved seeing her come into herself with her students and the people of Augustine. Hannie was a girl who knew what needed to be done and was willing to do it. I can't imagine the things she went through, but her character was a force and I appreciated that for sure. I haven't read many books set in the post-Civil War era and I'm glad I stepped out of my usual categories to read this one, because I liked it!
I've mentioned before how it's important to me that all of these stories be told, not matter how hard or uncomfortable it is to hear these truths, and that's what this whole book is about - carrying these stories on for the generations that come after us so that we don't repeat the same mistakes!
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