Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Book Review: Alligator Lake

Lynne Bryant's Alligator Lake is a beautifully written southern novel about love, family, relationships, racial tensions and how our past can continue to affect us over several generations.  You will visit the small town of Greendale where deep racial tension lies beneath all the beauty of Mississippi.   Four generations of Southern women reveal their personal histories and their intertwining stories reveal prejudice, complex history and town secrets.  You will read about Oak Knoll, a lovely southern mansion overlooking Alligator Lake, sun-warmed delta cotton fields, mimosa trees, trellises and gloriously scented rose gardens. Of course, mentions of the delicious southern cooking including biscuits and gravy, catfish, hush puppies, ice cream and peanut butter cookies will evoke memories of family meals.  You will also learn about how much pain can be caused by prejudice which can continue to affect families for generations to come, especially children, and all without cause.  We often hurt others without really meaning to but the pain and damage are still the same.

Avery Reynolds left her childhood home of Greendale, Mississippi as a pregnant teenager, full of anger and shame.  She moved to Colorado where she lived for the past ten years where she is raising her mixed-race daughter, Celi. Now, Avery has just returned to Greendale, Mississippi for her brother Mark's wedding.  She worries about introducing Celi to her extremely conservative family.  How will her family react, especially her cold, opinionated mother?  Will this southern town accept Celi or will she just stir up trouble when she tries  to find out the truth?  Also, Avery would like to know how Celi contracted a genetic disorder which only occurs when both mother and father have specific ancestors. 

You will be richly rewarded when you finish this book.  I just had to keep turning the pages and finished the book with a deeper understanding of racial prejudice which can exist in a small southern town.  Lynne Bryant examines highly charged racial issues with compassion and delicacy. 

This is an emotional novel as characters dig through their past, trying to come to terms with many difficult issues.  Such issues are often difficult to deal with because your past affects who you ultimately are and how you may react to situations.  The choices we make and challenges we overcome reveal who we are.  The power of love and friendship has strong redemptive powers.

I hope you can tell that I enjoyed reading this book.  I loved the descriptive passages of the small southern town and learning about these strong southern women characters' hopes, dreams and secrets.  In fact, I was able to purchase a copy of Catfish Alley by Lynne Bryant from our Friend Bookstore Catfish Alley also deals with civil rights issues and prejudices in a small town.  If you loved The Help by Kathryn Stockett, you will enjoy reading this book.  I also highly recommend Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund who is an Alabama author.  Check out these books today and happy reading!

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