Dear friend Kendra joins us today as a guest reviewer. Given her affinity to Florida, this was a great book for her. Here’s Kendra:
When I started reading Karen White’s, The Beach Trees, I thought that it was going to be some light read, maybe a romance novel in a romantic beach setting, that I could breeze right through…that was so not the case! Beware…book covers can be misleading! However, I am happy to say that I got so much more from this book than I originally thought I would.
In The Beach Trees, Ms. White takes us to the beautiful Gulf Coast post Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil spill. We believe that the story first begins in New York City when two women, Julie Holt and Monica Guidry, meet at an auction house. Their mutual interest in art segues into a strong friendship. So strong, in fact, that when Monica dies (I’m not giving anything away here as she dies in the beginning of the story) she leaves Julie her two most precious possessions, her five-year-old son, Beau, and, River Song, her beach house in Biloxi, Mississippi that unbeknown to her was destroyed by Katrina. Monica also leaves Julie a note telling her to stop by a woman’s house in Biloxi to pick up something. After the funeral, Julie packs up Beau and what little belongings she has and leaves New York and travels to the deep South where she receives a mysterious package that will send her on a journey into Monica’s family’s troubled past and reveal family secrets that have been hidden for over half a century. In trying to figure out why Monica left her family ten years earlier without any warning, Julie discovers many things about herself and the connection that she has to the Guidry family.
This story has two protagonists, Julie Holt and Aimee Guidry (the Guidry family matriarch) whose insights and past history help Julie who has had a past family tragedy of her own. Due to her past history, Julie has a problem settling down and making permanent roots anywhere. When Aimee asks Julie to rebuild and restore River Song, the beach house, back to the way it was when Monica was alive, Julie responds,
“Why invest all of that time and money when each hurricane season brings a new threat?”
We see the pure southern diehard in Aimee in the following quote:
“Why build skyscrapers in San Francisco that might be knocked down by an earthquake? Or why build farms in Kansas and Oklahoma that might get blown away by a tornado? Where did they want us to go anyway? I figure if we’re still breathing, then we’re meant to keep going. So we rebuild. We start over. It’s just what we do. You haven’t had a place to call home in a very long time. Maybe if you did, you’d understand.”
Still not understanding, Julie asks, “But why me”?”
Then my most favorite quote in the book is when Aimee responds, “Maybe because she thought that you had more to rebuild than just a house.”
Being a Gulf Coast girl myself, I was particularly intrigued with this story. Ms. White has interwoven the past and the present to create an intricate mysterious tale of loss, intrigue, self-discovery, hope and love. The Beach Trees has all the elements of a good story and was certainly worth my time. Always on the search for a good author, I am looking forward to reading more of Karen White’s books.
Penguin Group provided a review copy of this book for this post. All opinions are my own.
What are you reading and where are you going?