Cover Image: The Book of Lost Friends

The Book of Lost Friends

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Member Reviews

This book was going to be a '5' for me all the way through-- until the end. I felt like it was too rushed, and I wanted more details about the connections between the 1875 characters and 1987. As a matter of fact, I was thinking I needed to finish the book because I wondered how some things were going to turn out-- and then I remembered that I had finished it. I enjoyed Wingate's Before We Were Yours, but liked this even better. I enjoyed both the historical and contemporary stories here, and there were nice cliffhangers at the end of most chapters before time shifted yet again. As with most good historical fiction, I want to know more, and will do some further research.
I listened to the audio for much of the book, but finished up with print.

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Disappointed in this one after Before We Were Yours was SO good. This one just kind of fell flat for me.

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This book was an excellent, example of a well researched historical fiction. This reader was hooked within the first few pages. Superb pacing and storyline alternating the time lines of each story. The perfect book club selection.

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An incredibly powerful novel from the one and only Lisa Wingate. Wingate has such a way with words, especially when dealing with difficult subjects that really set her work apart.

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Set in Louisiana, this story is a great historical fiction that tells the legacy of Goswood Grove, a former working plantation. Weaving story lines from post Reconstruction Era and late 1980s, it narrates the life of Hannie Gosset, an emancipated slave who heads west to Texas to find her family whom were sold during slavery. I would have given 5 stars, but the ending for the present day portion of the story was a little weak to me. Overall a great read and very relevant to current times.

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This book was incredible. I had a little trouble getting into it, but once I did, I was hooked. The only thing I would have liked more was more of an epilogue! I'd love a second book going into the future of both Benny and Hannie.

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Thank you to NetGalley for an e-ARC of this title.
I really wanted to like this book since I enjoyed "When We Were Yours" so much, but the joy wasn't there. It was a slow start before the plot lines and multiple character points of view began to mesh. I thought the interspersal of the newspaper clippings was a good way to create a division between the two time periods covered in the story. While Benny alludes to secrets in her past multiple times, I was let down when Wingate glosses over this with a few sentences in the epilogue. I had higher expectations for this title.

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I can’t express how much I loved The Book of Lost Friends!! After reading Before We were Yours, another novel by Lisa Wingate, I had high expectations for The Book of Lost Friends and I was not disappointed. I admired and respected the way Lisa Wingate’s research led her to the discovery of advertisements that had been placed in a newspaper by freed slaves following the Civil War looking for their family members who had been sold to new masters. I listened to the audio CD that was read by Sophie Amoss and Bahni Turpin, with Lisa Flanagan, Dominic Hoffman, Sullivan Jones, Robin Miles and Lisa Wingate.

The Book of Lost Friends was told in a duel time line but both took place in the state of Louisiana. In the year 1875, during the Reconstruction Era, former slave Hannie Gossett, accompanied Missy Lavinia and Lavinia’s illegitimate Creole half sister, Juneau Jane on a quest to Texas. Lavinia and Juneau Jane were desperate to find their father and secure their inheritance and improve their financial situations. Hannie traveled with Missy Lavinia and Juneau Jane so she could look for her family members that had been sold so many years ago. She was separated from her family when she was a little girl. Hannie always hoped to find them again. Along the way, on their journey to a Texas, the three companions found shelter at an old church. They discovered ads in a newspaper placed by free slaves looking for their lost family members. The names were read in the churches with the hope someone knew them, had seen them or had information about them. Hattie was so taken by this idea that she convinced Juneau Jane to help her read the ads since she was illiterate. Juneau Jane and Hannie began to record the names of family members of freed slaves they met along the way in a book they had and which they named The Book of Lost Friends.

The story of Benedetto or Benni Silva was told in the alternating chapters. The year was 1987 and Benni was just hired to teach English literature and writing at a very poor rural school in Augustine, Louisiana. This was Benni’s first teaching job. She learned very fast that she was fighting an up hill battle to both capture her student’s interest and make her teaching relevant to them. When Benni proposed a project to her students to help them learn about their ancestors and important people and places in their town she was met with all kinds of opposition and harassment. Benni, not one to give up easily, solicited the help of Nathan Gossett. Nathan and Benni helped bring the stories of Hannie, Lavinia and Juneau Jane and The Book of Lost Friends full circle.

The Book of Lost Friends was full of hope, despair, friendship, trust, love, compassion, heartbreak, and secrets. This time in our country’s history was shameful but for those that were reunited with love ones because of the ads placed by prior slaves there was always a glimmer of hope. The research for this book was well done. All the characters were well developed and the writing was authentic and beautiful. I highly recommend this book.

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I finally read this book after waiting way too long to do so! I adored it- a historical novel that feels relevant in the present, told in dual timelines, it captured my heart and also taught me so much about the South right after the Civil War. Incredibly written with captivating characters, I have recommended it highly since finishing it.

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This book was beautifully written! The details and the history are well presented and the characters truly grabbed at my heart strings. This is one book I won't be forgetting and will turn to time and time again.

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DNF around 60%. The pacing here was wayyyyy too slow, and the plot could have been trimmed up a bit.

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I loved this book! The Book of Lost Friends will be hard to beat for 2020. I suspect that it will be my favorite for the year.

Each chapter is written in alternating timelines. In 1875 we meet Hannie, a former slave and 1987, Benny a new school teacher, trying to get through to her kids, in a very rural area of Louisiana.

Sometimes reading books with alternating timelines like this can be very confusing and you simply wonder how they are going to intersect, WELLLLLLLLL, Ms Wingate did a wonderful job of tying the two together. I loved everything about this book.

I knew nothing about post Civil War and the "Lost Friends" newspaper article. Apparently, the freed slaves would post family names in the hopes of reconnecting with family members that had been ripped from their lives. These posts would circulate through the Black churches to be read by the pastor. The chapters that begin with the "lost friends" adds were heartbreaking.

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I enjoyed Wingate's, Before We Were Yours , so I as excited to see her newest book offered on NetGalley. I was not disappointed. Wingate offers a compelling story, told through dual narrators, in 1875 and 1987. Wingate includes actual ads former slaves placed to locate their scattered families, preserving their history even today, in ways likely beyond their imagining. The story, both brutally heartbreaking and achingly hopeful, is a powerful one of family, love and loss.

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This historical novel is set in two time periods. In 1875, it’s told from the perspective of Hannie, a former slave who is still living as a sharecropper/servant on the Louisiana plantation of the Gossett family, until she ends up unexpectedly going on a journey with the daughters (one white, one black) of her former master. And in 1987, it’s from the perspective of white teacher Benny, who is new to town in the same Louisiana town where Gossett family descendants still live, and whose efforts to engage her students ends up finding out more of the history of the town.

This book took me longer to read than usual for me, both because I had a busy week and because I found it a little slow. Usually I love dual time period historical novels, but in this one, I felt like the every chapter back and forth was too much - it always felt like just as I was getting engaged in the story, it would switch back to the other time period. I also found the historical story was more compelling than the contemporary story, and indeed if the book had been tilted more to the 1875 story rather than about 50/50 I think it would have been better. And I also found the real life historical inspiration - something I didn’t know about and did enjoy learning about in the book - perhaps even more compelling. I did find the end emotionally affecting though.

This is the third book I’ve read by Lisa Wingate and I’ve felt pretty much the same about all three of them (yes, I thought Before We Were Yours was overrated as well), so perhaps it’s time for me to conclude that while her books are decent, they’re just not must reads for me.

3.5 stars

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Interesting historical elements are the highlight of this novel, but overall, the storytelling feels muddled and disjointed. I had a hard time connecting to any of the characters, and the more modern day storyline was unconvincing. I appreciated the inclusion of real "Lost Friends" advertisements, but otherwise, didn't find this novel particularly successful.

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To me, there is nothing better than learning about a part of US history, shown from a strong woman's perspective. Combine that with adventure, love, and friendship and it becomes a winning book. THE BOOK OF LOST FRIENDS is a beautifully written story by Lisa Wingate. Her previous book, BEFORE WE WERE YOURS, was also another amazing book.

During the time of slavery, there was a newspaper article titled, "Lost Friends," during the post-civil war era where families would try to reconnect with lost family members. The newspaper was sent to black churches, and the pastors would read it aloud to their congregations. This is the story of Hannah in 1875, a former slave, who tries to find her family that was taken from her. It converges with the storyline of Benny, a high school teacher in the 1980s, who starts her students on a research project about slavery.

The main part of the story, though, is about Hannah's adventures of her quest to find her family. Wingate is a fantastic storyteller who keeps you engaged throughout the whole book.

I gave this book FIVE stars; yes, I enjoyed it that much. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends.

I was given this book for my honest review.

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I had a really tough time getting into this. I tend to enjoy a slow burn but this may have been a bit too slow for me. The secondary story set in the 80/s was certainly the best part for me. The ads through out the book were certainly fascinating so I definitely think picking up a print or e-reader copy is best. Those ads may get lost in audio translation.

3.5 stars from me. I like Lisa Wingate's writing style and will continue to read her books. This was just a little too slow for me.

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**Mother-daughters book club read for February, 2022.
Note: Also a great book to read for Black History Month!

In 1987, Benedetta Silva arrives in Augustine, LA, to teach English to grades 7-12 in a poor school district. If she can last five years on the job, her student debt will be forgiven. She soon realizes these kids have no interest in reading the books of the approved curriculum and her job is just to keep them contained within the classroom for an hour. She wants more for them. She hatches a plan to have them dig into local history and family genealogy. Maybe this will inspire them to read and write. The kids decide to call the project Tales from the Underground.

In a second timeline set in 1875, we meet Hannie Gossett, one among several sharecroppers who work the land where they were once slaves on the Goswood Grove plantation in Louisiana. They have been promised the land after ten years of labor but Old Mister Gossett has been gone for 4 months now, gone to Texas in search of his ne'er-do-well son Lyle. How can they get their hands on the papers that would prove their claim if something has happened to their old master? Hannie soon learns the master's two daughters are worried too. His illegitimate daughter, Juneau Jane, has come from New Orleans to search for her own inheritance papers. She and Missy Lavinia Gossett, her half-sister and the legitimate family daughter, form a plan to go talk to their father's lawyer. Hannie, overhearing sll this, disguises herself as a boy so she can drive the wagon and come along. Little do they all know that what should have been a short day trip will launch them on an odyssey of survival and discovery.

Interspersed amongst these two storylines are actual ads written to the editor of the Southwestern newspaper by people asking for news and whereabouts of lost family members and friends, once slaves who were sold off and never seen again.

The author writes in the afterword that she learned about the actual 'Lost Friends' column from a reader who emailed that she was a volunteer with the Historic New Orleans Collection, working to preserve the column in a database. These small advertisements are very poignant--a little known piece of history for which we can thank this author for bringing to our attention.

I received an arc off this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in 2020, but unfortunately during the pandemic, I fell way behind in my reading and passed this one by. I suggested it for our book club read so I could rectify that mistake and very happy that I did.

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There was so much buzz for Wingate’s previous novel. I still haven’t gotten around to reading it, but I did enjoy this one. While it wasn’t by any means the best book I’ve ever read, it was a well-written and well-crafted story. I will likely now go back and read her other popular novel.

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Super late to this, but I was a HUGE fan of Lisa's Before We Were Yours. The Book of Lost friends did not disappoint, and was super excited to read something a bit different from the emotional read that was BWWY.

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