Book Review: The Beach Trees – Karen White

Title: The Beach Trees
Author: Karen White
ISBN: 9780451233073
Pages: 432
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: NAL
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Julie Holt has never been able to get past her sister’s disappearance.  After all, she was supposed to be watching Chelsea, and she failed.  As the years have passed, she has lost contact with her parents, unable to put down roots or commit to anything.  In New York City, Julie meets another young woman named Monica who is interested in the artwork of Abe Holt, Julie’s grandfather.  Julie finds a kindred spirit in Monica, and they become as close as sisters.  But when Monica becomes sick and eventually passes, Julie is left with Monica’s shattered memories, as well as her son Beau.  Unsure of what to do, Julie heads down to Biloxi, Mississippi to meet Monica’s family and to understand why she chose to abandon them.

Review:

Karen White writes absolutely mesmerizing Southern fiction that I can’t seem to get enough of.  I’ve read almost all her books, and have loved every single one (reviews of The House on Tradd Street, The Girl on Legare Street, Falling Home, On Folly Beach, The Lost Hours, and The Memory of Water). Therefore, when I discovered she had a new book coming out, I had no doubts that I would read it as quickly as possible, and that I would thoroughly enjoy it.

Julie is a carefully crafted and complex character, and an endearing person to play a leading role in White’s novel.  She is very broken and unsure of herself when the novel starts.  She doesn’t allow herself to care for anything or anyone, and doesn’t want to commit to a place because she is certain it will be taken from her.  She doesn’t know how to trust.  It’s clear that losing Monica was extremely difficult for her, but Julie also realizes that her old methods of protecting herself will no longer work.  She has Beau to worry about now, and his welfare is more important than her insecurities.

The Gulf Coast of Mississippi plays a huge role in The Beach Trees.  The setting is its own character, beautiful, yet haunted by the ghosts of the hurricanes Katrina and Camille, as well as the Gulf oil spill.  White takes the reader into this region, so beaten down yet full of hope, and really shows the reader its spirit.  At the beginning, Julie is so skeptical of why anyone would want to rebuild in a place that has been so battered.  It’s so rewarding to see her begin to understand what a place can mean to a person, especially since she is so incredibly lost.

Julie also explores Monica’s family history and begins to adopt it as her own.  Her interest is more than morbid curiosity – she has to understand why Monica left her family, refusing to speak to them or even let them know she was alive for over a decade.  She has to know what kind of people they are for Beau’s sake; after all, they are his family as well.  This mystery was engrossing, and though Trey could be frustrating at times, each character was well-written and engaging.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Beach Trees and am sad it’s over.  Karen White has such an amazing talent for writing a beautiful story with sympathetic characters that you can’t help but fall in love with.  This was a wonderful story, and I’m so glad I had the chance to read it – I’m excited to see what she does next.

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Comments

  1. When I saw this was coming out, I thought of you immediately! I need to get to this one.

  2. When I saw this was coming out, I thought of you immediately! I need to get to this one.

  3. I also really like White’s writing, and I need to read more of it. This actually sounds like a book that I would really like, and I loved reading your thoughts on it. I am going to add this to the ever growing list of books, but it’s going right at the top! Thanks for an excellent review, as usual :)

  4. I also really like White’s writing, and I need to read more of it. This actually sounds like a book that I would really like, and I loved reading your thoughts on it. I am going to add this to the ever growing list of books, but it’s going right at the top! Thanks for an excellent review, as usual :)

  5. I have to get hold of this one! Karen White and Wendy Wax will be here together for a Book Your Lunch event on the 17th!

  6. I have to get hold of this one! Karen White and Wendy Wax will be here together for a Book Your Lunch event on the 17th!

  7. I’ve only read Falling Home but I get what you mean about her ‘sympathetic characters that you can’t help but fall in love with’. Sounds like another good one from Karen White.

  8. I’ve only read Falling Home but I get what you mean about her ‘sympathetic characters that you can’t help but fall in love with’. Sounds like another good one from Karen White.

  9. Looking forward to reading not only this one, but several others by Karen White.

  10. Looking forward to reading not only this one, but several others by Karen White.

  11. This definitely goes to my list!

  12. This definitely goes to my list!

  13. Looks like this is an author I should be on the look-out for!

  14. Looks like this is an author I should be on the look-out for!

  15. Oh she is a favorite author of mine too! Glad to see she has a new one out and it’s so good!

  16. Oh she is a favorite author of mine too! Glad to see she has a new one out and it’s so good!

  17. I’m way behind on Karen White’s books. I’ve only read The House on Tradd Street so far, but I’m pleased to see you’re still enjoying her books. That makes me want to get around to reading another one of hers soon.

  18. I’m way behind on Karen White’s books. I’ve only read The House on Tradd Street so far, but I’m pleased to see you’re still enjoying her books. That makes me want to get around to reading another one of hers soon.

  19. I really enjoyed On Folly Beach (and have Falling Home on my shelves). She has such a comfortable style about her writing. And wow, does she CRANK out these books! This one sounds exactly what we have come to expect from Karen…wonderful. I don’t think her books are made into audios (at least the last time I looked) but I’m going to check again.

  20. I really enjoyed On Folly Beach (and have Falling Home on my shelves). She has such a comfortable style about her writing. And wow, does she CRANK out these books! This one sounds exactly what we have come to expect from Karen…wonderful. I don’t think her books are made into audios (at least the last time I looked) but I’m going to check again.

  21. I’m a huge fan of Karen White, too, and definitely want to grab this one! The cover is so inviting.

  22. I’m a huge fan of Karen White, too, and definitely want to grab this one! The cover is so inviting.

  23. I’m eagerly awaiting Karen White’s latest book–it’s on order from Amazon UK. Can’t wait! Loved the review.

  24. I’m eagerly awaiting Karen White’s latest book–it’s on order from Amazon UK. Can’t wait! Loved the review.

  25. Great review! I’m a huge Karen White fan and cannot wait to read The Beach Trees. She’s coming to my hometown for a book signing and I must read this book before she gets here!
    Thanks again!
    Paige

  26. Great review! I’m a huge Karen White fan and cannot wait to read The Beach Trees. She’s coming to my hometown for a book signing and I must read this book before she gets here!
    Thanks again!
    Paige

  27. I loved this book, too! It’s one of White’s best.

  28. I loved this book, too! It’s one of White’s best.

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