I looked forward to this book by Lisa Wingate, because I really enjoyed her earlier work Before We Were Yours. Once again Wingate takes a significant event in history and creates a fictional tale that brings the reader back in time. The Book of Lost Friends provides a wonderful history lesson. Here is my Book Review of The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate.
There are two parallel stories in The Book of Lost Friends. The first follows Hannie, a former slave girl in 1875 as she becomes entangled in a sinister crime ring. During this adventure she discovers a newspaper that provides former slaves an opportunity to place ads looking for lost family members separated during slavery. The ads become what drives Hannie to survive the adventure she is snared in along side her mistress Lavinia and Juneau Jane, Lavinia’s mulatto half sister. The women begin to collect stories as they travel and The Book of Lost Friends begins to emerge.
First year teacher Benny, finds herself in a back water Louisiana school in 1987 with little funds, direction or motivation for the poor and forgotten children of the town…many descendants of slaves. The town is suspicious of Benny and her unconventional teaching ideas and throw roadblocks in her way at every turn. Until she befriends the local heir to the former glorious town plantation with centuries of history connecting nearly everyone in town
The stories of these two women will merge in a history lesson for both the town and the reader of The Book of Lost Friends. Once again I have really enjoyed Wingate’s ability to to take the reader on a historical journey with interesting and engaging characters and a happy ending .
*****Five stars for The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate
Here we find two families, seemingly unrelated based on economic wealth and political status in present day South Carolina. But history tells a different story and Wingate writes a beautiful tale of families lost and found.
Using the true life tragedy of stolen babies and children in the 1930’s at the Tennessee Children’s Society, Before We Were Yours is a fictional story that begins in the deep Tennessee back water and ends in a high-powered South Carolina political family.
Before We Were Yours, follows the lives of one family and the eldest daughter Rill. When her mother is rushed to the hospital to deliver twins in 1939, Rill is left on their river boat to care for the rest of the children. Soon a “policeman” arrives and tells Rill their mother is waiting for them at the hospital. This is of course not true and the men steal all five children in the night and take them to the Tennessee Children’s Society. They will never see their parents again.
Some of the children will not survive the horrors of the Tennessee Children’s Society. Other’s eventually are adopted, their names changed and histories altered. Only Rill is old enough to remember the life they had together on the river.
Fast forward to present day South Carolina, where Avery Stafford is born to wealth and privilege, following her parents and grandparents paths into politics and always doing what is expected of her in the old southern family of Stafford.
Avery meets an old women named Mae and her life takes a big turn as she unwittingly begins to unravel a mystery about her family – one that could ruin both her father’s and her political careers- the truth of where they came from. A long dark hidden secret of a happy family Before We Were Yours.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Four stars for Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours
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