by Lisa Wingate
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
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In her distinctive voice, Lisa Wingate brings to life startling 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 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’ve been in the mood for historical based fiction lately, and stumbled upon The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate. This tale shares a dual timeline, weaving back and forth between 1875 Louisiana and 1987 Louisiana.
Wingate transported me, and I quickly became caught up in both timelines.
Louisiana 1875– Freed slaves search for families in newspaper ads read from the pulpit of community churches. We follow Hannie, a freed slave who longs for her family as she gets caught up in the troubles of Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now-destitute plantation and Juneau Jane, her illegitimate free-born Creole half-sister. Unthinkable danger awaits as the sisters search for their father. Wingate paints the times, as she shares the truths and harsh realities of this turbulent time.
Louisiana 1987- A depressed town stuck in the past is where Benedetta Silva agrees to teach in order to pay off her student loan debt. She soon finds herself caught up in the students and the towns past. But in Augustine, Louisiana, not everyone wants the past revealed.
This story unfolded slowly as we got to know the characters and their circumstance. The stories surrounding Hannie were more action-packed and often dark, but Wingate quickly had me rooting for Benedetta and her students. I loved how she pulled them in and was aided by townfolk.
The past and present eventually wove together, and I appreciated how the author did this. I found the newspaper ads heartbreaking and a reminder of our dark past.The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate pulled me in with its tales set in Louisiana. #historicalfiction Click To Tweet