Bring The Beach Trees to the Beach
When I see the words "beach" and "dying friend," my mind automatically goes to Bette Midler and "Wind Beneath My Wings." So I nearly passed up The Beach Trees by Karen White. I'm glad I didn't because this book is something completely different.
Julie finds herself travelling to Biloxi to house she's never seen with a child who's not her own. After a long illness, her friend Monica died leaving her a beach house, a priceless portrait and her son. Julie is unsure what to do when she discovers the house was washed away during Hurricane Katrina. Julie contacts Monica's family, who haven't seen or heard a word from her since she ran off years before. They are shocked to learn Monica has died and even more shocked when they learn Julie has custody of her son. As Julie gets to know them, she doesn't understand why Monica left and can't leave well enough alone. With Grandma Aimee's help, Julie attempts to learn what drove Monica away. What family secrets will she uncover?
What I liked most about The Beach Trees is how the mystery of both Monica's flight and her great-grandmother Caroline's disappearance decades before are revealed at the same time. I couldn't stop reading, I had to find out what happened. Julie's part of the story -- building the new house, getting to know Monica's brother, the loss of her sister -- wasn't as appealing to me. Sure she has issues but let's get to Aimee's story, thanks.
The setting of Aimee’s part of the story, New Orleans in the 1950-60s, adds to the charm of this book. Imagine sitting on the front porch in a poufy dress and little white gloves drinking sweet tea. It’s a summertime kind of book.
Looking back, I can see that a few tricks had to be used to get the plot to go in the direction it did. Manipulative? Maybe, but I can forgive that because it’s a great story. I had a few problems with Julie’s attitude and Aimee is your typical wise old lady. Still, I was completely held by the story and had to know what would happen.
The Beach Trees is the type of book to take to the beach but delegate watching the kiddies to the husband because you won’t want to look up from the page.