I honestly don’t even know how to begin a review for The Book of Lost Friends. As a long-time fan and influencer for Lisa Wingate, I obviously wanted to review this book but due to my mind being distracted by a prolonged family crisis, I had absolutely no clue as to its contents. I went into the story totally blind. As some other reviewers mentioned, it began fairly slow but I knew that the author tends to build her stories one layer at a time and the next thing I know I find myself hooked. That was the case with this beautiful tale. It didn’t take me long to wonder why I thought it could be at all slow.
A split time novel, readers are taken back and forth between post-Civil war Louisiana and 1987 Louisiana with freed slave Hannie and a teacher with her very first assignment. Interspersed between the chapters are actual historic newspaper ads from Hannie’s era of people who have written in search of their family members or friends. These ads played a huge role in the story as Hannie and two other young women traveled to Texas in search of her former master. Hannie’s tale is filled with danger and tragedy yet a small spark of hope pushes Hannie to continue searching for her own family members who were sold years before.
Benny soon finds herself in over her head with the high school students she is expected to teach. An avid reader, Benny hopes to instill a love of books into her pupils but most of them have absolutely no interest in the only book available to them. An unexpected discovery prompts Benny to develop a project that requires the students to dig into their own backgrounds.
I loved the way the author ties the characters of the two eras together. It was fun reading a name in a newspaper ad or in Hannie’s story and then find the same name among Benny’s students or residents of Augustine, Louisiana. Sometimes poignant yet filled with hope, The Book of Lost Friends brought me a new understanding of the slaves displaced by their owners or the war. It is a story with a little bit of everything – action and adventure, secrets and mystery, faith and hope, with just a touch of romance for good measure. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to everyone.
I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by the author. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours comes a new historical novel: the dramatic story of three young women searching for family amid the destruction of the post–Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who learns of their story and its vital connection to her students’ lives.
Bestselling author Lisa Wingate brings to life startling stories from actual “Lost Friends” advertisements that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, as newly freed slaves desperately searched for loved ones who had been sold away.
Louisiana, 1875: In the tumultuous era of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Hannie, a freed slave; Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now destitute plantation; and Juneau Jane, Lavinia’s Creole half sister. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following roads rife with vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of stolen inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and siblings before slavery’s end, the pilgrimage west reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the 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, is 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 lie the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything.
Order a copy here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lisa Wingate is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Before We Were Yours, which remained on the bestseller list for fifty-four weeks in hardcover and has sold over 2 million copies. She has penned over thirty novels and coauthored a nonfiction book, Before and After with Judy Christie. Her award-winning works have been selected for state and community One Book reads throughout the country, have been published in over forty languages, and have appeared on bestseller lists worldwide. The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa and six others as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Booklist summed up her work by saying, “Lisa Wingate is, quite simply, a master storyteller.” She lives with her husband in North Texas. More information about her novels can be found at www.lisawingate.com where you can also sign up for her e-newsletter and follow her on social media.
LISA’S INTERNET LINKS:
Lisa’s website: www.Lisawingate.com
Greeting cards with Lisa Wingate quotes. Buy a Card, Feed a Child.