I've been saying for a few years that I need to find another, "The Help,". I loved that book. I love books set in the 1960s South about race relations. I was thrilled when I was contacted by Mary Marcus to review her book, "Lavina.".
Lavina tells the 1990s present day of the characters but the bulk is what happened back one hot summer in the 1960s. Mary Jacob is summoned home by her sister Kathryn because Big Daddy Jack Long is dying and wants to see his youngest daughter again. Mary Jacob doesn't really remember much of her youth before she was shipped off to boarding school. She does remember the hatred she has for her father and the tumultuous relationship with her vain older sister.
Shortly after returning home to Louisiana she is confronted by someone from her past which unleashes all of the memories from the summer that changed her life. Billy Ray is the son of her beloved Lavina. Lavina who raised Mary Jacob and whom Mary Jacob thought for awhile was really her mother.
My favorite parts were from her memories of the past. That was the bulk of the story. That summer shaped the future of everyone involved. The writing is awesome. The character's have their own unique voice. The dialects change with the characters and you can see the characters. There is a nurse who is mean and racist and I immediately had conjured up an image based on way Mary Marcus used her words.
The first couple chapters did take a bit to get into. I actually put it down and read a different book and then I went back. It helped and I was quickly engrossed after that. So, if you do read it and the first two chapters are hard to get into, the next bit is far better and I feel like they are even written differently, in a very good way!
If you loved The Help, I'd definitely recommend this book. It's not exactly the same but if you loved it, you will enjoy this one too! It focuses on the black housekeeper of an affluent white family in small racist Louisiana town.
Description: Mary Jacob grew up as an anomaly. A child of Louisiana in the early sixties, she found little in common with most of the people in her community and in her household, and her best friend was Lavina, the black woman who cooked and cleaned for her family. Now, in the early nineties, Mary Jacob has escaped her history and established a fresh, if imperfect, life for herself in New York. But when she learns of her father's critical illness, she needs to go back home. To a disapproving father and a spiteful sister. To a town decades out of alignment with Mary Jacob's new world. To the memories of Billy Ray, Lavina's son who grew up to be a musical legend whose star burned much too bright.
And to the echoes of a fateful day three decades earlier when three lives changed forever.
A decades-spanning story both intimate and enormous in scope, LAVINA is a novel rich in humanity, sharp in its indictments, and stunning in its resolution.
Did you read and enjoy The Help? What other similar books have you read? Do you remember all of your childhood or are their chunks you don't?
I received this book for review but all thoughts and opinions are my own!