The Book of Lost Friends

The Book of Lost Friends

A Novel

Book - 2020 | First edition.
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"From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours comes a new novel inspired by little-known historical events: a dramatic 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 vital connection to her own students' lives. 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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, [2020]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781984819888
Branch Call Number: FIC WINGATE
Characteristics: 388 pages ; 25 cm


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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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

May 10, 2020

The first book I read by Lisa Wingate was "Before We Were Yours". Since then, I have read a number of her books, including the entire Carolina series. There are two reasons why I keep coming back to this author. All of her book tackle difficult subjects. And nearly all of them have a theme of female friendships.

This book did not disappoint. I think this book may have shocked me if I had not read books like Just Mercy and The Warmth of Other Suns. This story goes back even further. Ms Wingate has the ability to take a historic event or personal story and weave an engaging tale.

It seemed like the book ended abruptly with both stories. The epilogue helped, but I am not a fan of the epilogue writing tool.

Mar 28, 2020

Oh. My. Heart. There is so much heartbreak and so much hope in this new novel from Lisa Wingate. She tells the story of a snail mail social network that helped freed slaves find their lost loved ones after the war. An old proverb says: "We die once when the last breath leaves our bodies. We die a second time when the last person speaks our name."

Hannie (1875) and Benny (1987) are both -- in their way--seeking to remember people from the past. Hannie is a freed slave and sharecropper who accompanies the daughters of her former owner to a lawyer's office and finds herself on a journey from Augustine, Louisiana to Austin, Texas. Her travels take her by riverboat, wagon, and train and are filled with peril. Her path brought memories of reading "News of the World" by Paulette Jiles. Her resilience is an inspiration.

Benny is the new English teacher in a classroom full of kids who are merely expected to stay in their seats and out of trouble. The bar is low, but Miss Poo (nicknamed after the pooperoos she keeps on hand to feed the hungry teenage tummies) refuses to stick with status quo. After Granny T visits the classroom to tell them the story of the opening of the Carnegie Library before their time, they are energized to begin seeking out the stories of those who came before. Benny has scars in her past, too. Should they run from the past or learn from it? Benny's story ties the present to the past and brings healing for many.


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