Our story starts out in Louisiana in the year of 1875. Lavinia is the daughter of a plantation owner, her half, illegitimate sister is Juneau Jane, and then lastly there is Hannie who is the former slave of Lavinia. The three have set out on a quest that sends them to the wild frontier of Texas. Lavinia’s father has gone missing and they have to find out who the plantation and other lands that the Gosset family owns, will pass down to.
In 1987, the same Louisiana town, Benny Silva has moved in as a first year teacher. From living all over the United States she has a hard time understanding how hard the lives are of her students in this poor southern town. She tries to connect them all with the history of the old planation right in their hometown.
I connected more with Hannie as a character than I did with Benny which is kind of funny as a I live in a time closer to Benny’s but it might be because I am closer in age with Hannie than I am Benny. I just felt like the 1875 chapters had so much more emotion to them. I really cared about what would happen to all of the characters. They all developed and changed throughout the novel. That’s not to say that our more modern counterparts were dull, they were absolutely well written as well.
America was at a really awkward stage at this point in history. Well, maybe the whole world was. Technology was rapidly being invented and changing as we had the industrial revolution take way in cities, the old world was becoming the modern world. In America, however, we were just getting out of a civil war. Tensions were still looming (and still are, if you ask me.) and it was not necessarily a safe place, especially for three female travelers like we see here. No one really writes in this time period, at least in American history, you will find a ton of books set in England during this time period but that is a different story. I really think this is an interesting time in our history and that it should be written about more, I applaud Lisa Wingate for doing so.
As I talked about the characters, the plot had a different impact on me. I preferred Benny’s plot to Hannie’s. I think it was just because the digging and the researching of Augustine, Louisiana’s history. As most of you know, I love to research the history of my local area and my family. The plot with Hannie however is powerful and one that I will not forget, it just made me so emotional, this whole book made me feel that way, especially at the very end. Just seeing the stories of different people and knowing that people in real life lived lives so similar to these characters, it breaks my heart. One of the main plots is that slavery separated so many families, mother’s from their young children, and just tearing these families apart. It is so hard to put into words how it feels to read that and to know that it is not fiction. This book really opens the eyes of the reader to the history of our country and that we cannot change the past but we can make the future better so we do not go back and make those same mistakes again.
I did not want to put this book down, I actually had my biggest reading day of the month, around 150 pages read. I was wanting to know so bad how the two plots would really connect. If you are a fan of ancestry, history, and even the game Red Dead Redemption, then you will enjoy this book. However, I think that everyone needs to pick up this book. It is so powerful and moving. It will definitely stick with the reader. I am so glad that I picked up this book on a whim at Target. I can only hope that you will pick up ‘The Book of Lost Friends’.
5 out of 5 stars.