My brother tells the story of a kid with whom he attended high school. The kid was a smart, serious student (I’m trying to avoid using the term nerd, though I think that’s what he was). Apparently he loved to read. He loved to read so much, in fact, that he would walk through the halls of the school reading a book while changing classes.
I thought about that kid as I read The Beach Trees by Karen White. I couldn’t put this book down. I would read while I cooked. I would read while I got ready for bed. I would read in the car while Bill did errands. It was, quite simply, a really good book.
I have mentioned that I have only recently discovered this author, thanks to the recommendation of a cousin. And recently, while discussing the author, my cousin mentioned that The Beach Trees was her favorite of the many books White has written. Mine too, at least so far.
At the age of 12, Julie Holt’s sister goes missing on her watch. Now Julie is an adult, and still hasn’t come to grips with the tragedy. When her friend Monica passes away and makes Julie the legal guardian of her 5-year-old son and leaves her property in Biloxi, Mississippi, Julie heads south to meet Monica’s family, and try to find out why her friend ran away from her family years before.
What she finds out is that the house in Biloxi was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. As Julie tries to figure out her next moves, she becomes involved in figuring out the layers that make up the family’s history.
The story is told in a back and forth manner – first Julie’s story, then Monica’s grandmother Aimee’s story. Sometimes when authors use this particular style, it can be confusing or I will find that I’m interested in one story but not the other. In the case of The Beach Trees, I was interested in both stories and felt the author did a wonderful job of moving both stories forward.
There is a love story involved, in fact, several. All of White’s books (or at least all I’ve read) have a romantic element. But this story, and others that I’ve read, are not driven by the love story. In fact, in The Beach Trees, that part of the plot was mostly incidental.
The final secret isn’t revealed until the very end of the book, and I wasn’t even close to predicting at least some of the surprise. That was what kept me reading. That, and learning about the ravages brought about by hurricanes. I was reminded that Hurricane Katrina wasn’t the first time the area was impacted. In fact, Hurricane Camille plays an important role in this book. White’s description of Hurricane Camille as it hit the area is vivid and really made me feel like I was living through the storm.
I highly recommend The Beach Trees.
Buy The Beach Trees from Amazon here.
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Buy The Beach Trees from Tattered Cover here.
Buy The Beach Trees from Changing Hands here.