The Book of Lost Friends: A Novel (Hardcover)
Lisa Wingate, author of Before We Were Yours has gifted readers with yet another compelling story, inspired by history from the post-Civil War era in Louisiana and Texas. The story begins with; ”At the very least, we must tell our stories, mustn’t we? Speak the names? You know, there is an old proverb that says, ‘We die once when the last breath leaves our bodies. We die a second time when the last person speaks our name.’ The first death is beyond our control, but the second one we can strive to prevent.”
Told in dual timelines, Hannie, (1875) the middle of nine siblings, is an 18 year old slave who is on a journey, looking for her family who had been sold away in parcels. The other timeframe (1987) finds Bennie Silva, a first year high school teacher who is searching for a way to motivate her disadvantaged Louisiana students who have no interest in school, and don’t want to be there. Bennie Silva rediscovers the story of Hannie and its connection to her own students' lives. And yes, this passionate teacher has “lit a fire” under her students!
The Book of Lost Friends includes actual ads that were published in Southern newspapers and read to black congregations by their preachers, searching for relatives of former slaves. I found this very interesting.
I rate this as one of my very favorite historical fiction books. The two mesmerizing stories set one hundred years apart, taught me about slavery in the south, and reaffirmed the power of stories and the passion of teachers to change lives!
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the bestselling author of Before We Were Yours comes a new historical novel: the dramatic story of three young women searching for family amid the destruction of the post–Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who learns of their story and its vital connection to her students’ lives.
Bestselling author Lisa Wingate brings to life startling stories from actual “Lost Friends” advertisements that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, as newly freed slaves desperately searched for loved ones who had been sold away.
Louisiana, 1875: In the tumultuous era of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Hannie, a freed slave; Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now destitute plantation; and Juneau Jane, Lavinia’s Creole half sister. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following roads rife with vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of stolen inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and siblings before slavery’s end, the pilgrimage west reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the 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, is 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 lie the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything.
About the Author
Lisa Wingate is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Before We Were Yours. She is the author of over thirty novels and a nonfiction book, Before and After, co-authored with Judy Christie. Her award-winning works have been selected for state and community One Book reads throughout the country, have been published in more than forty languages, and have appeared on bestseller lists worldwide. She lives with her husband in North Texas.
Praise for The Book of Lost Friends
“Emphasizing throughout that stories matter and should never go untold, [Lisa] Wingate has written an absorbing historical for many readers. . . . Enthralling and ultimately heartening.”—Library Journal
“[Lisa] Wingate makes history come alive. . . . Historical fiction fans will appreciate the authentic articles and the connection between modern times and the past, while adventure lovers will enjoy a voyage reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn.”—Booklist
“This is what I love most about historical fiction, the chance to learn things we unfortunately aren’t taught in schools.”—All About Romance
Praise for Before We Were Yours
“A [story] of a family lost and found . . . a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets.”—People
“One of the year’s best books . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near perfect novel. It invades your heart from the very first pages and stays there long after the book is finished. Few novelists could strike the balance this story requires but Wingate does it with assurance.”—HuffPost
“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year . . . [Lisa] Wingate is a master storyteller.”—Parade
“Every now and then a novel comes along that sweeps me off my reading feet. Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate, is such a book. . . . Take note: This may be the best book of the year.”—Shreveport Times
“Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power. That Georgia Tann and her Tennessee Children’s Home Society could actually exist, unraveling the lives of countless children, will give you chills. . . . Vivid and affecting.”—Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Love and Ruin
“This heartbreaking story is also heart-mending. I absolutely loved this book. I’m still basking in the afterglow, in shock at the true-crime elements, in awe at the journey of these characters who seem to have immortal souls.”—Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet