Ginger did two things for me today to begin my birthday celebration a day early: she arranged for us to go bowling with friends (isn’t 52 the Rented Shoe Birthday?) and she gave me the afternoon to read. Between cooking and blogging, I haven’t been reading much, so an afternoon with a book was amazing, as was my choice of novel to accompany me.
Earlier this year, my friend Joy Jordan-Lake published Blue Hole Back Home. I’ve written about Joy’s writing before here and here. She is a thoughtful and expressive writer in both style and content. Her book, Why Jesus Makes Me Nervous: Ten Alaming Words of Faith is one I continue to reread because I continue to find new things. Blue Hole is my first experience reading Joy’s fiction. She’s good at novels, too.
The story is narrated by Shelby Lenoir Maynard, or Turtle, who tells the story of her fifteenth year in Pisgah Ridge, North Carolina when a Sri Lankan family moved to the all-white town and became part of her pack of friends. The story pulls in faith, race, hope, courage, cowardice, love, friendship, adolescence, swimming, dogs, Southern culture, and the Boston Red Sox.
Here’s a better description:
When a fifteen-year-old Sri Lankan girl moves to the all-white Pisgah Ridge, Shelby Lenoir Maynard invites her to join Shelby and her brother and her brother’s friends for a swim at the Blue Hole-less in a gesture of bold social reform than because it is simply too hot to think straight. Exotic, mysterious and fiercely independent, the new girl throws the entire town into turmoil. When two different members of The Pack, as Shelby and her brother and her brother’s friends call themselves, begin exhibiting interest in the new girl and a third hints he may be conspiring with the local Klan, the Pack itself threatens to splinter. Throughout the summer, as the town’s hostilities steadily increase along with the heat, the Blue Hole remains the teenagers’ only place of real peace-and even that has its limits. Eventually, the tensions outside the Blue Hole erupt in betrayals, cross-burnings and a deadly explosion. Ultimately, though, Blue Hole Back Home is a story not only of the devastating effects of racial hatred and cowardice, but more centrally, a celebration of courage, confrontation, mercy and healing.
The story is powerful and the language is beautiful.
Here’s what I hope you will do. Go here and order the book, or go to your local bookseller and ask them to get it for you if it’s not on the shelf. In a world where Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber are getting big book deals, someone who has poured heart and soul into her prose deserves to be noticed and rewarded for her brilliant effort.
Join the Joy Book Club. Please.