Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Beach Trees

By Karen White

From the back of the book:

Julie first knew loss at the age of twelve, when her younger sister disappeared from their backyard—never to be found. As her once close-knit family grew apart, Julie’s mother obsessively searched for the girl, and when her mother died, Julie took up the search. Even as she went on with life, discovering a love for art that she attributed to her painter great-grandfather, she never let go of the hope that she might find her sister. Then, while working at an auction house in New York, Julie meets Monica Guidry—a struggling artist and single mother who reminds Julie so much of her sister that she can’t help feeling drawn to her and even a bit protective.

Just my opinion:

Here are two women who become the best of friends, so when Monica dies, Julie inherits her 5-year-old son and a beach house in Mississippi. Julie feels it’s important to take the little boy to meet his family. What she doesn’t expect to find is a beloved house destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. At first, she’s not sure what to do, but she quickly becomes determined to rebuild. What she doesn’t expect is that ownership of the house is shared with Monica’s brother, who Julie takes an instant dislike to.

Thus begins one of the most amazing stories I’ve read. Not only is the plot wonderful, the words are absolutely amazing. In fact, I had so many page flags marking quotes that I thought I would have to narrow them down to add to my review here. But I decided to include them all because I want you to really see how beautiful this writing is.

It really is a great book and I stayed up late into the night (or early in the morning, if you prefer your glass half full!) to finish it. I know you’ll want to include this one on your summer reading list.

The only question I have is: Why haven’t I read anything by this author before?

Some favorite passages from the book:

Death and loss, they plague you. So do memories.

The garish colors looked defiant against the scrubby grass yards and plywood windows of their neighbors. A tall, white lighthouse sat nestled between the opposing traffic lanes of the highway, leaning slightly inland.

You ain’t dead yet, so you ain’t done.

It wasn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out, but the grain of sand in your shoe.

Wide front steps led up to a gracious front wraparound porch dotted with wicker rocking chairs and more plants hanging from the porch ceiling. Matching turrets framed the front of the house like parentheses, giving the impression of a castle. Large double wooden doors sat in the middle, long rectangular windows in each polished door like drooping eyes staring warily at the encroaching garden.

Climbing hydrangea drooped haphazardly off of trellises, while large clay pots exhibited their gaudy offerings of forget-me-nots and verbena in the shade of the fountain.

Great tragedy gives us opportunities for great kindness. It’s like a needed reminder that the human spirit is alive and well despite all evidence to the contrary.

After a hurricane, when everything is in such disarray, you look up at the sky and see that everything’s clear up there, the sky’s blue, and the birds are stretching out their wings and rebuilding their nests. And it’s up to those who can bear to look down again who are left with the responsibility of restoring life down here.

Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting.

Sometimes a person needs to be forced underwater to see if they’re going to drown or swim.

You have a generous heart, Julie. But don’t forget to save some of it for yourself.

We looked at each other as if we were speaking the same language but with accents that made our words indecipherable to each other.

We all need something to soften the sharp edges. To give us balance. Otherwise, I think we’d find ourselves stumbling around in the dark like lost souls.

Sometimes you got to put up with a whole bunch of ugly so you can appreciate a little bit of beautiful.

Having questions doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t already know some of the answers.

The hot spring erupted into a scorching summer, the humidity heavy and intrusive, its thick fingers reaching through window blinds, under doors.

The verdant foliage and brilliant colors of summer gardens faded to hues of brown and beige as dead blossoms littered the ground and scattered with the cool winds.

I was too angry to respond, too scared of the cloying darkness with only the thin beam from my flashlight to illuminate what lurked in the corners.

When everything you’re about to see is too much, look up and see that the sky is clear and know that everything is going to be all right.

Our lives are spent searching for what makes us whole, for the things that make surviving worthwhile.

1 comment:

Suko said...

Wonderful review, LuAnn. I also enjoyed the passages you chose.