Karen White's Tangled Family Mystery in Post-Katrina New Orleans

BlogHer Review

The Beach Trees by Karen White has all the ingredients for a fantastic read.

Remarkable setting? Check.
Flavorful characters? Check.
Curious mystery? Check.
Two single characters resisting romance? Check.

Set on the southern coastline in a post-Hurricane Katrina era, the story follows a fiesty main character named Julie who strives to do the right thing by her newly-deceased best friend's son, of whom she now has custody. This involves leaving her New York life behind and journeying to the southern coast of the United States, to Biloxi, Mississippi and the New Orleans French Quarter.

In her search and determination to do the right thing by her new son, Julie learns a lot about hope, surviving and rebuilding, through her circumstances, her past and her setting.

I love a story that has it's setting reflecting the internal struggle or storyline so well, and this one does precisely that. The hurricane ravaged South reflects the emotionally ravaged Julie. She is a woman without a home, never giving herself permission to truly settle down and rebuild her life due to her personal tragedies, and then suddenly she is thrust into a family and a situation that forces her to do both.

The main theme of this story is about surviving and rebuilding. And the images in this book drive that point home, with the beach house restoration and the Katrina trees. However, one of my biggest disappointments of this book was that there were no Katrina trees on the cover. I had to hurry to Google first thing to find out what they looked like!

I really identified with the main character in the sense that she was searching for what made her whole inside. This is no easy journey, and for some of us, it takes a lot longer or is a lot more bumpy than others. I want to find what makes me whole inside, where my place in the world is, and I love that this author was able to evoke those feelings with her words.

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