Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Review: The Beach Trees, by Karen White

I think a little piece of me is a southern girl, because of my fascination and absentee love of the South. I have a manuscript I'm working on set in Savannah, Georgia, although I have never been there. I have another set in Alabama, and yet another in New Orleans.
The gulf coast, and the rich heritage and strength of the southern states has long been some of the locations I wish I could have 'seen'.
I was in Florida for a time when I lived in New York and I have family in Atlanta and Mississippi. This was my primary attraction to "The Beach Trees" by Karen White.
"The Beach Trees is a novel that takes place in Billouxi Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisianna. It is a tragic tale of  one young woman who dies and leaves three items to another young woman who has been searching for a kidnapped sister for 16 years.
The three items Julie recieves from her friend Monica are: A destroyed beach house on the coast of Billouxi, An expensive painting Julie's grandfather painted in the 1950's, and Monica's five year old son, Beau.
Monica instructs Julie to take Beau back to meet his family, old money and blood in New Orleans, and the very people she fled 10 years earlier.Monica wouldn't talk to Julie about what caused her to run from her family or why she cut off contact. Julie who had spent her entire life with no other goal than to track down her missing sister, now finds herself a single mother, a Katrina wrecked home owner, and an unwelcome member of a strange family.
As the story unfolds, Julie starts to learn what 'home' is from a group of people who in Julie's words are "short sighted and egotistical to re-build in a hurricane zone."
She discovers the truth Monica hid from everyone and she rebuilds her own life post disaster.
This story explored both the aftermath and survival of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Camille, a similar Hurricane that ravished Billouxi Mississippi in 1959. The beach trees are beautifully carved symbols of survival, strength, and determination That start for Julie as almost frightening. As Julie learns to love what she can lose, the trees become her own desire to struggle out of tragedy.
This was a vibrant telling of the conquering spirit of regular people who don't give up when disaster strikes. The images were clear and I felt as if I walked through New Orleans. The story is told from Julie's point of view, and in the past from Monica's grandmother's experience in the 1950's.
I got this book from the Utah State Library for The Blind, but I know it is also available in public libraries, through The Library of Congress and in digital and paper copies.
It was an enjoyable read and an interesting story that gives you only enough information to string you along until the conclusion
If you get the chance go read "The Beach Trees" by Karen White..
P.S. My NaNoWriMo update is that as of Tuesday Nov. 12 I was up to over 25000 words. I am learning that when I let go of expectations for my writing, I can write a lot more than I thought I could. Keep it up NaNoWriMo-ers.

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