“It’s part of our historical reality” – Wingate
We can all admit that the current climate in America is tense. From the shutdown of our economy, unemployment rates, lockdown, and now the killing of George Floyd, America is struggling on several serious issues. Instead of arguing relentlessly on social media platforms and trying to be heard about the issues I hold dear to my heart, I closed my mouth, stepped away from technology, and began reading this novel. Lisa Wingate’s The Book of Lost Friends provides the reader with a devourable tale that intertwines the South during Reconstruction with Louisiana in the 1980’s, and though I love the storyline, Wingate delivers much more than a tale or two.
Throughout the novel, Wingate’s characters are beautifully flawed. Their perceptions on life and society are derived from their own experiences, drawing in both the positives and negatives. Wingate delivers the characters with such delicacy that the reader both sees the flaws and misconstrued viewpoints and yet understands why they have such haste views. In this essence, Wingate pulls at the reader’s heart strings as we root for positive character development throughout the story lines.
Wingate interweaves America’s brutal past in the height of Reconstruction with a town who’s wounds are refusing to heal. Just as it is now in America, Wingate helps the readers discover how deep wounds can get, while at the same time, how we mend those wounds by facing our past. The characters’ developments, helped me grow as well. Where I once felt despair, I now felt hope. Instead of anger seeping into the words I wrote and spoke, I now chose kindness. The cynicism I once wore on my face, was now replaced with the eagerness to help educate those who maybe are unaware of varying perspectives. Ignorance is an easy state to live in, but real progress occurs with education.
Wingate’s novel allowed me to mentally escape America’s current twenty-four hour news cycle, but develop a deeper understanding of America’s roots, while getting lost in two stories that show just how connected we are to the past.