Rating: Four out of five hearts ♥♥♥♥= good
After Pete's father's death, the young Alabama boy turns to Isaac for friendship, advice and comfort. True, he's white and Isaac is one of his family's black workers, and most people their 1960's community don't see the African-Americans as their equal. However, to Pete, there are no barriers, and he treasures their close friendship. But then the worst happens- Isaac disappears. No one seems to know where he's gone, and because of Isaac's skin color, no one seems to care.
Determined to find Isaac, Pete sets out to the one place he's never gone before. There he meets a girl who will become his new best friend, and who will impact his life forever.
However, as the years go by, Pete still has questions. It sometimes seems as if he'll never find out what happened to Isaac.
Alabama native Mrs. Luesse takes you back to the classic 1960's in a small-town setting with her new debut novel. The book gives off a slightly nostalgic, sweet feel and takes you back to the days where school dances were sweet, chivalrous and fun; boys offered you their arm; and kids were allowed to run free through the fields and woods. Intermixed with all that, though, is segregation. Prejudice. But even though African-Americans (and others who were looked down upon) may have been considered "beneath" other races, Pete, his family, and his friend Dovey look at all people, no matter the color of their skin, the same. This time in history was not perfect and it was a hard one for many, but Pete's story gives you the sweetness and hope of friends who come from different worlds and defy the boundaries of prejudice.
Pete and various other characters have gone through heart-breaking loss, and I think that may be one of the themes of this book- moving through it, even when it's tough, and proving that the song by The Afters true. Life is still beautiful. Even through the trials, heartache, loss and pain. Pete and the other characters come to learn this throughout the story.
The author skips around in her narrative; one chapter may be from Pete's point of view, while the next may be from his mother's, or a neighbor. It confused me at times, especially when a new point of view was introduced, but definitely helped broaden the story and show the whole picture. The story is about Pete, he's the main character after all. However, it's also about the people close to him, and together the story flows into a lovely picture of Southern life.
While the writing style wasn't my favorite at times, it was still a good story, and I think this was a wonderful first novel for Mrs. Luesse. She takes you on a leisurely journey through a small, lovable community that I think you'll want to visit again.
Note: I got this book from Revell in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.