Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

The Book of Lost Friends


A new novel inspired by historical events: a story of three young women on a journey in search of family amidst the destruction of the post-Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who rediscovers their story and its connection to her own students' lives.
Lisa Wingate brings to life stories from actual "Lost Friends" advertisements that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, as freed slaves desperately searched for loved ones who had been sold off.

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 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 want to do this book justice because it was such an incredible read and I thought I had a review in my mind on how I wanted it to go but I wound up erasing it. It didn't sound right to me.
I'm not sure how I feel about this book but I do know that it was a powerful read and historical fiction at its best.
I just knew that I couldn't put the book down until it was finished. I don't want to tell what the story is about but I do know that these characters are special and were brought to life through Wingate's pen.
I didn't understand what "Lost friends" were until I read this book. They were advertisements ( voices from the past that jumped out at me) to help people like Hannie find family, friends or whatever the case may be once the war was over. I knew it had to be hopeful and heartbreaking at the same time.
When I actually read one of these adds I "heard" their voices anxiously wanting to know where their loved ones were. It made me tear up.
It felt like I could picture them in my mind asking Hannie to write their names in the book of Lost Friends.
Hannie {1875) who quickly became a favorite because of her compassionate and caring, has taken her responsibilities seriously. I can't even begin to imagine how Hannie felt as she witnessed certain events in her life. It made me want to reach through the pages to help her find what she was looking for.
Another character that I greatly admired was Benny (1987) who was a first year teacher. I admired her because she had a job I wouldn't want and makes me greatly appreciate teachers of yesteryear and today. Now I have some idea what teachers go through.
Another reason I like Benny is she's pretty much like me. A worry wart that is always worrying about unnecessary things. Wishing she could be more like Nathan who is pretty much laid back ( like my husband). I too keep wondering about what ifs.
After all, we are all human. We all have everyday fears.
History is my favorite subject. It always was. I love learning about it. To my idea, it makes us who were are today.
On thing Augustine Louisana has taught is that the past travels with us and whether or not you run from it or learn from it makes all the difference.
Another one I liked was this one:
We all have scars. It's when you're honest about them that the people who will love you in spite of your nicks and dents. Perhaps even because of them.
Those that don't? Well, they aren't the ones that aren't for you.
I give this book 5 stars because I feel that Wingate has written this novel from the heart. I love the research that has gone into this book to turn into a fantabulous story that it is.
I believe that this book has called me to read it for the lessons that it can teach me about events from the past. Thanks to this book I had a feel for Louisana and her residents past and present.

My thanks to Netgalley for a complimentary copy of this book. I was NOT required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Lisa Wingate
Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the bestselling author of more than thirty books. Her blockbuster "Before We Were Yours" was on the NYT best seller list for over one year. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Utah Library Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. Lisa believes stories can change the world. 

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