The Beach Trees: Triumph Over Tragedy

BlogHer Review

Julie Holt knows tragedy. When she was twelve, instead of staying with her sister outside, she chose to go inside and watch TV. When she went back outside, her sister was gone. In the blink of an eye, her life changed forever. So begins The Beach Trees, by Karen White.

Later on in her life, Julie finds herself as guardian to her late best friend’s son, Beau. She drives to Biloxi, Mississippi, to an empty lot that she now part-owns. A lot that once held a house, destroyed by hurricane Katrina. Her life is turned upside down, as she copes with the loss of her friend and the start of a new life she’s not quite ready for. But she never gives up hope, and keeps searching for her long-lost sister.

As she gets to know her friend’s family in New Orleans, Julie learns why the home in Biloxi is so important to them all, and why they must rebuild. She realizes that everyone is searching for something.

This is a remarkable book. Julie’s story is interwoven with a family history that makes you want to stay up all night to finish it. I loved the way the author, Karen White, used history -- mostly the history of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast -- to bring her story to life.

It’s been five years since Hurricane Katrina, and most of us have forgotten about it and moved on. But the people who were there, who lived through tragedy themselves, will never forget it. They know there was a hurricane before, Hurricane Camille, that ravaged the homes they love so much. They also know that there may be another hurricane. But they rebuild, they move on, they don’t let tragedy stop them. I think that’s the most important point Karen White makes in this book.

As Julie Holt says, “…suddenly I know what Monica meant, what the Katrina trees have been telling me: that our lives are spent searching for what makes us whole, for the things that make surviving worthwhile.” A wonderful sentiment, from a wonderful book.

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