Deciding to read The Book of Lost Friends, which can find both here and here, was an easy decision for me. Author Lisa Wingate captivated me with her novel, Before We Were Yours, so when I saw this latest novel hit the shelves, I was sold.
Below is a synopsis from The Book of Lost Friends followed by a few personal thoughts and favorite quotes:
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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.
And here’s why…
I loved The Book of Lost Friends pretty much from beginning to end. I’ve long been a fan of historical fiction, and one of the special elements of this novel was Wingate’s inclusion of the actual “Lost Friends” advertisements. It’s heartbreaking to think about entire families being separated and lost from one another as they were bought and sold into slavery.
Included in the dialogue were some incredibly insightful and impactful statements, and although the novel clearly wasn’t set in the present, I think the sentiments easy apply today.
A Few of My Favorite Lines:
- “…everyone has history. Just because we’re not always happy with what’s true doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know it. It’s how we learn. It’s how we do better in the future. Hopefully, anyway.” (p. 221)
- “Tough times make good people and bad people.” (p. 237)
- “Civil debate is a healthy and democratic process. If one cannot make one’s point without yelling, name-calling, or insulting others, one should develop a stronger argument before speaking further.” (p. 253)
- “…the life you create for yourself can be entirely different from the one you came from.” (p. 334)
- “…the past travels with you. It’s whether you run from it or learn from it that makes all the difference.” (p. 339)
- “We all have scars. It’s when you’re honest about them that you find the people who will love you in spite of your nicks and dents. Perhaps even because of them.” (p. 370)
I loved the telling of two stories set a century apart and seeing those characters intersect toward the end of the novel. A fabulous novel, and one I think you will enjoy!
Here are two quick links if you’d like to order a copy for yourself: Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
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