Published by Revell on August 3, 2021
Genres: Fiction / Christian / Historical, Fiction / Christian / Romance / General, Fiction / Small Town & Rural
Baker Book House|Amazon|ChristianBook
Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She's soon teaching just about everyone--and coming up against opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives.
Acclimating to a whole new world, Ellie meets a lonely but intriguing Cajun fisherman named Raphe who introduces her to the legendary white alligator that haunts these waters. Raphe and Ellie have barely found their way to each other when a huge bounty is offered for the elusive gator, bringing about a shocking turn of events that will test their love and their will to right a terrible wrong.
A master of the Southern novel, Valerie Fraser Luesse invites you to enter the sultry swamps of Louisiana in a story that illuminates the struggle for the heart and soul of the bayou.
After hearing so many amazing things about this read I was glad to have finally had the chance to sit down and read it myself!
The opening scenes of this novel were absolutely superb. The author did an incredible job of establishing the setting through the optimistic eyes of the heroine without the focus on the city’s sinful depravity. Yes, Ellie was naive, but her naivete was natural to her surroundings, without being overdramatized or hyper-focused. She was able to look upon the local sites and architecture through eyes of wonder and awe. Of course a mild blunder was involved, but I didn’t feel like rolling my eyes. Instead, I chuckled and made myself comfy in my chair, because I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
The further I delved into the story, the more I found myself comparing Ellie to Ms. Honey from the childhood story Matilda–with the superintendent filling the shoes of Ms. Trunchbull. It made the read feel almost nostalgic even though it was truly a work of it’s own.
Admittedly I’ve never been to Alabama or Louisiana, but I have friends that are from there. There was a scene when Ellie asked what a particular food was and I was quite excited because I actually knew the answer (only because a friend of mine had me try it a few weeks prior… otherwise I would have been just as clueless haha). But I always appreciate a read that makes me want to visit the location, and this read certainly managed that.
I think there were only two things that were noteworthy as things that were not pros for me. One is that I was begging for a sequel up until the very end, but I wasn’t thrilled with the epilogue. It was sadly underwhelming. But asking for a sequel is still saying something. Also, when it comes to the faith content I think the author may be Catholic which I am not, so some of it didn’t line up with personal beliefs.
I LOVED the humor and the nostalgia for southern living, and I appreciated the character driven content that kept my eyes glued to the pages. I truly enjoyed this read and join many of my friends in a hearty recommendation for it.
*I purchased a copy of this book myself. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.