I Can't Wait Until My Friends Read The Beach Trees!
As a life-long resident of the Gulf Coast I was drawn to The Beach Trees as soon as I read the synopsis. Admittedly I was a little worried that author Karen White would be able to capture the spirit of the people that live here, but she did a great job capturing the defiance and resilience of the people that choose this area to make a home.
With the first line, "Death and loss, they plague you," I knew I was going to connect with this story. The main character of the story, Julie, has suffered a lot of loss in her life. First her sister was abducted from their yard when she was only 12. Over the ensuing years she loses the remainder of her family to death and distance. Most recently she has lost her best friend, Monica, to leukemia. Monica left her son, Beau, in Julie's custody.
In an effort to build a life for Beau she Julie leaves her home for a beach house based on stories and paintings created from Monica's memories. When she arrives she finds that the house was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and never rebuilt. After meeting Monica's family she finds herself embroiled in a mystery that has spanned over fifty years.
While I love a good mystery, the thing I loved most about this book was Julie. She has lived her life blaming herself for her sister's disappearance. To survive the loss of her sister she has addressed the needs of life, but never venturing to want anything for herself. Instead she has spent her time focusing on locating her sister.
Now that she is faced with the responsibility of caring for Beau she is forced to come to terms with her past. When her friend Carol Sue tells her, "He's okay Julie. No need to worry... Let it go," I could feel the beginning to take place. While rebuilding River Song for Beau, surrounded by the resilient people that live on the Gulf Coast, she starts to heal.
While I was originally drawn to The Beach Trees because it was written about the Gulf Coast and then was drawn to the mystery woven into the story, it was Julie that I fell in love with. I definitely recommend this book and can't wait until some of my friends read it so that we can talk about it.