The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

No two readers read the same book, because we all see the words through different eyes, filter the story through different life experiences.

The Book of Lost Friends – Lisa Wingate

What I Loved:

Well, I loved EVERYTHING about this book. The Book of Lost Friends gave me an absolutely stunning story with amazing characters, adventure, a quest for answers and missing people, and above all, insight into the history of the time. It was a beautiful story, and I cannot say enough how much I loved this book.

How I Felt:

After reading Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, I knew that I wanted to get my hands on The Book of Lost Friends once the release had been announced. Her ability to write about a time in history is one-of-a-kind. She creates a dual-timeline for the story, giving you perspective into the historical timeline as well as the present-day timeline and the impact the history had on today.

I was drawn into the love of literature that is written about in this book. There were so many beautiful and poignant quotes that hit home for me. I’m sprinkling them throughout this review because they were amazing and I want to share them!

If there is magic in this world, it is contained in books.

The Book of Lost Friends – Lisa Wingate

The writing brings the reader in immediately. Lisa Wingate’s words describe the feelings, atmosphere, and danger so well, a reader is completely absorbed into the story. It’s fabulous and I so appreciate her ability to write this way. This specific story had some connections within the characters and timelines that were done so well. There were connections within each timeline as well as between the present and the historical one, and I loved them all!

The character growth in both the present day and the historical storylines was amazing. In the past, there’s Lavinia, Juneau Jane, and Hannie. All three of them grow in a different way, and it was beautiful. Prejudices fall away, familial bonds are created, and what is truly important in their lives becomes clear.

Ain’t fair to judge all of something by just a few.

The Book of Lost Friends – Lisa Wingate

In Before We Were Yours, even though I loved the book SO much, I was less connected to the present-day characters. In The Book of Lost Friends, I was equally connected to the present-day and historical characters. Here, the story was bigger than the one character, Benny. It’s about Benny’s entire classroom and the town as a whole. Benny though has her own character growth that was beautiful. She starts as a teacher at a new school and is angry at a class that is out of control. It was a bit reminiscent of Sister Act, actually. Her work to control and teach her class was amazing and gave me chills by the end.

The story begins with Hannie, a slave, losing each of her family members as they are illegally sold off on a trip from her plantation home to Texas. Hannie is the only one of her family that is recovered by their original owners. She has memorized each family member’s name, age, name of the person that purchased them, and the location where they were sold. This becomes a mantra she repeats as she grows up, always looking down the road hoping to see her family coming to get her after the emancipation proclamation. Hannie’s story really begins when she pretends to be a male driver for Miss Lavinia and Juneau Jane. Lavinia is the Master’s daughter and Juneau Jane is also the Master’s daughter but from a different woman. What begins as a quick trip for these three, ends up as one filled with terror, danger, secrets, escapes, rescues…and clues to Hannie’s past.

In the present-day, Benny is starting as a teacher in a new school. She’s living on part of the old plantation’s land and begins to understand a bit of the history from a variety of sources. She’s struggling to teach a group of children that aren’t reading at their grade level, aren’t getting fed at home, and aren’t getting the support they need from the community or from home. When she starts a history research project to understand the student’s family history, she stirs up secrets long-hidden.

There is no faster way to change your circumstance than to open a great book.

The Book of Lost Friends – Lisa Wingate

So, what’s a Book of Lost Friends? You’ll read all about this in Hannie’s story. Emancipated slaves used a newspaper listing, that would be read by preachers all over, to advertise that they were looking for family members. Lisa Wingate inserts actual Lost Friends ads in her book between the chapters and they are heartbreaking, but I really loved their addition. I found that it made the overall story so impactful as I continued to read the real advertisements.

Overall: This was a wonderful story. I loved the characters and their journey. It is a book that I will be recommending for a long time.

It’s the words a mama says that last the longest of all.

The Book of Lost Friends – Lisa Wingate

To Read or Not To Read:

I would recommend The Book of Lost Friends for historical fiction fans that enjoy stories of travel, friendship, and antebellum south.

If you haven’t yet read Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, check out my review here!

Where to Find This Book:

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate is available at these sites.

Bookshop.org Amazon Kindle | Amazon | Audible | Goodreads

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A new novel inspired by historical events: a 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 connection to her own students’ lives.

Lisa Wingate brings to life 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 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.

Just the Facts:

  • The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Page Count: 400 pages
  • Publisher:  Ballantine Books
  • Pub Date: April 7, 2020
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I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.

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