This story covers two time periods: post Civil War Reconstruction (1875) and 1987 in Louisiana. 1875: three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest. One a freed slave, the pampered heir to a now destitute plantation, and the heir's Creole half sister come to reclaim her inheritance. Their quest leads them into dangerous territory full of treacherous situations. 1987: first year teacher, Benedetta âBennyâ, in a poor rural school in Augustine, LA. While trying to get her students involved, she stumbles on a century-old history of the three young women. A hidden book and secrets lead to discoveries that upset many and force Benny to face her own history.
An amazing story based on pieces of real history! Masterful storytelling pulled me in from the start and kept me mesmerized until the end. It could have continued another 100 pages even and it would have kept me glued to it.
Both the modern plotline in 1980's Louisiana, and the past one from 1875, held my attention, especially towards the end as they began to merge. Benny and Hannie were strong, flawed heroines, sacrificing to 'go the extra mile' for others, at their own risk. The modern story of a struggling first year teacher working in a disadvantaged school was quite inspiring. It reminded me of The Water is Wide or other heroic tales of teachers who take risks to reach out and make connections to their students.
"...the past travels with you. It's whether you run from it or learn from it that makes all the difference."
The author does a good job of mixing in tough topics associated with slavery and mistreatment of women without being too graphic. Themes included breaking free from a destructive past, and being courageous to move toward a better future despite hardship and prejudice. Many of us can relate to overcoming things we are ashamed of or times we could have used a hand up to help us. There's a whisper of faith present, but not overtly Christian, more of a moral perspective.
Highly recommend! A solid 5 star read!
(An ebook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.)