The Book of Lost Friends

The Book of Lost Friends

A Novel

Large Print - 2020
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"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"--
Publisher: New York : Random House Large Print, ©2020.
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9780593286418
Characteristics: 559 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm.

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l
lainie1945
Aug 31, 2020

I love historical novels and Lisa Wingate delivers. I hope she writes a lot more of them.

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Bookworm1136
Aug 29, 2020

4 - 4 1/2 star read. I enjoyed this book very much. Wingate writes a novel of two different times. The first voice is Hannie's in 1875, a slave girl on a sharecrop in Louisiana. The second voice is Benny's in 1987, a teacher in Augustine, Louisiana. Hannie tells her story of setting out with two other women to search for her Master who is the father of both girls. And Benny tells her story, of arriving to teach in a marginalized school and trying to get her students to engage with her. It's only when she finds a bunch of old books in the plantation house and uses them to help her students understand history and their heritage, that the students get interested in their family histories and the Hannie's story and what happened to her get revealed. A very interesting story and a good read.

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mjk236sb
Aug 08, 2020

As a country we are going through difficult times on various fronts. This story is very meaningful at this time as it relates the history and difficulties of the slaves and their families after the Civil War as they try to reunite with their families that had been sold and moved around to various different places during their lifetimes. Hannie, whose story is set in 1875, is representative of these families and their searches for not only their families but for a place in society, Benny is the teacher who comes to work in the impoverished town of Augustine, Louisiana in 1987, who is trying to reach the students in the school. Their stories are told at the same time and in the end to bring the story of Hannie and the current members of the town together as they tell the story of the history of Augustine and its citizens.

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BeckyR21
Aug 04, 2020

A good read. Interesting topic; I didn't know anything about the Lost Friends. The dual time line worked, although it may have been a bit slow off the start, it is well worth sticking to it. A few characters pop up later in the book that I had to go back to put who is who together, but it all ties up in the end. A worthy read.

p
peggysnorf
Jul 21, 2020

This was a very disappointing book. The story behind the Book of Lost Friends deserves a better telling than this... What could have been told as a riveting bit of history was presented on a very superficial level.

TSCPL_Sherry Jul 20, 2020

I loved Lisa Wingate's book "Before We Were Yours"; this book did not disappoint. It is a book that shares an important historic story as well. I looked forward to reading the actual lost friends articles included in the book; the story line left me curious as to whether family was found. Hannie is unforgettable. Her love for family is undaunted; her courage & strength admirable.

s
SJZB2020
Jul 10, 2020

A beautifully woven story, created by using the real-life Lost Friends columns from the 1800s and 1980s characters in rural Louisiana. It focuses on the life of a slave and the life of a teacher (both fictitious but authentic) trying to make a difference. The characters are engaging and the story was fantastic. I couldn't put it down!

Gina_Vee Jun 27, 2020

I already feel like I'm going to end up reading this one a second time, and I don't read a lot of books twice.

t
TLCMom582
Jun 09, 2020

I listened to the audio version of this book. I believe this is one of those books that is better as an audio book than the actual printed book probably was. The different narrators wove the story together in such a beautiful way to portray the desired depth of meaning.
Ms. Wingate tells the story in a dual timeline of families of slaves torn apart in Post-Civil War era and also through a first year teacher and her students in the late 1980's as they work on projects to research their families...their people, which results in strife in the small Louisiana town. The teacher is up against horrific odds, but is determined to get through to her students and to stand by them--even though it could cost her her job.
The Book of Lost Friends is a collection of letters written by freed slaves searching for their family members that they lost to the horrific situations slavers subjected them to. Some were freed, some indentured, some sold and some were runaways. Their families ceased to exist in the blink of an eye, possibly lost to them forever. These letters were written, many sent in to hopefully be published and distributed among several states and then read from the pulpit in the hope that someone would know something of any of their family members.
The dual timeline kept me guessing for awhile as to how the two were related. Ms. Wingate revealed a little at a time and I was certainly intrigued. Another incredible book for Lisa Wingate!

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brangwinn
May 17, 2020

I loved this story, if possible, even more than Wingate’s Before We Were Yours. This is another look at the newspaper ads, freed blacks put in a Christian newspaper seeking information about family members. Told in two voices, one of Hanni, a freed slave in 1875 Louisiana and Benedetta, 1987, an English teacher teaching in same small town as the plantation where Hanni was a slave. Hanni’s story is based on an actual Friends advertisement Wingate discovered in her research. Benny struggles with her first year of teaching in this racially/economically divided middle school. She despairs on getting her kids involved in any educational activity until she stumbles on the plantation historical papers and begins a ancestry unit. I loved the story. I loved the outcome. I loved how the historic Lost Friends ads were looking for ancestors of her students. What I have trouble believing is that she was able to turn a hostile school board into letting her continue and actually make a difference in these kids’ lives. I would have loved more clarification on that. This is a book in which you need to read the afterword to understand how Wingate came to write this book.

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