The Beach Trees: Secrets and Lies in Post-Katrina NOLA

BlogHer Review
The Beach Trees by Karen White begins with these marvelous two sentences: “Death and loss, they plague you. So do memories.”

With those few words, White had my attention. She then kept it as she introduced Julie Holt, a woman with a tragic past and an uncertain future.

I loved this book. It works as a mystery, it works as a love story and it also works as the story of a people and a culture, still trying to rebuild after the devastation that was Hurricane Katrina.

The book also serves to showcase some fabulous women characters, their lives, their loves, and their difficult choices.

The book begins with Julie trying to fulfill the wishes of a friend, Monica Guidry who suddenly dies, leaving Julie with the custody of her son, Beau, a dilapidated beach house in Biloxi, Mississippi, and a multitude of questions.

Monica left her family years before, never telling anyone where she went or why, and now it’s up to Julie to uncover the secrets that caused Monica to give up everything she knew.

But Julie lives with her own family secrets, namely the disappearance of her sister Chelsea when they were both children.

The Beach Trees is written in the first person and told from Julie’s point of view in the present, and from Monica’s grandmother’s point of view, in the past. White weaves the threads of both stories until they come together to form a tapestry that is beautiful and ugly at the same time.

The end of the book for the most part is satisfying, though I do wish that Monica’s motives for leaving her family had been somewhat stronger.

But ultimately, that didn’t bother me, because the journey White took me on was valuable and memorable.

Megan Smith is a BlogHer Contributing Editor covering Television and Movies. Her personal entertainment blog is Megan's Minute, quirky commentary around the clock.


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