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Blue Hole Back Home

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  760 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
The mid-century summer was heavy, not only with the humid Appalachian air, but with the raw emotion of a stranger in their midst. The New Girl. The New Girl with the deeply coloured skin and the s
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2008 by David C. Cook (first published February 29th 2008)
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Jennifer Nelson
I must say the writing in this book is fabulous; it is absolutely stunning in it's stark simplicity, perfect pacing, and superb character development. This is the kind of book that pushes all other books aside (and that's saying a lot coming from a multi-book reader like me - I usually have five or six going at once) and will probably stay with me the rest of my life. Joy Jordan-Lake takes simple words and strings them together into sentences of pure gold.

However, I was also completely disappoi
When a Sri Lankan family moves to all-white Pisgah Ridge in the Appalachian region, Shelby invites the daughter Farsanna to be part of the Pack she hangs out with (consisting of her brother and his friends). Not everyone in town is happy to have this family in town. Racial tensions run high and come to an explosive head. Shelby learns a lot about herself this summer and about the townspeople she thought she knew.

This novel, set in the 1970s, is inspired by true events from the author's childhoo
Buffy Greentree
Nov 06, 2013 Buffy Greentree rated it it was amazing
Another writer recommended this book to me because of a similarity with a scene setting I was trying to write.
This is a beautifully crafted work, so much so that at times it made me despair of ever calling myself a writer. There is not a piece of lazy prose in the whole book. Each metaphor and simile is original and thought provoking.
Even the parts that were just describing routine situations were enjoyable because of the writing, while the ending left me trying not to cry in front of my family
Feb 15, 2014 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
There are books that are 5 star in terms of quality and 1 star in terms of enjoyment.
This book was one of those. It is a gripping story, brutally realistic without being angsty or overdone at any time, and a valuable read. I think it will still be read when many authors we love so much nowadays are forgotten. It's that kind of book. It's like Othello---another magnificent story with a repellent storyline. Actually, it's a lot like the classic Greek tragedies. The tragedy is inevitable, the dialo
Mar 15, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
My sister-in-law's book club recommended this one highly and it was gripping. The author is from the Nashville, TN, area. It was a beautifully crafted, lyrical story set in a southern mountain town in 1979. A "new girl" from Sri Lanka stirs up racial prejudices and divides her high school classmates. The voice of the story is amazing and the author's descriptions of people, scenes, and emotions are "right on:"

"...Momma's voice, which was usually sweet and soft as moss, except when she cranked up
Mar 08, 2012 Denise rated it really liked it
Although categorized as Christian fiction, published by a Christian publishing house, this really is a fine piece of literary fiction dealing with the harsh realities of prejudice and racism in the post civil-rights era in the south. In no way "preachy," the story takes you back on a journey to the not so distant past, to a summer in a rural Appalachian town where the idea of white superiority still retains a strong hold on the community and the code of separatism reigns. A memorable group of te ...more
May 19, 2009 Debbie rated it it was amazing
Picked this up in the new section of the library. Beautifully written - an absolute treat to read because of the fine writing! This author is great with her descriptions using metaphors... "Like the fall of a theater curtain on the last act, dusk dropped onto the blue hole..."and in infusing the sarcasm of a teenager in the voice of the narrator (Momma made certain everyone in her path felf affirmed at all times, even if she had to perjure herself to do it...) It is a story of racial tension in ...more
I would love to give this book a 3.5 star, but that isn't an option. Initially I didn't want to read the book due to being a Southerner myself. The time period was set in 1979. My husband and I grew up during that time in separate southern towns. Both of us never knew of anyone in KKK or heard of incidents. However, the area where this book is based on, Single Mountain, TN... Yes, that area is known to this day for white supremacy.

The actual book is well written and easy read, but sad. Racism is
Apr 04, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing
Though I was skeptical when I found this for free download on my Kindle, I literally could not put the book down. I had to know what happened to Turtle, Sanna, Em, Bo, and the rest of their mangy pack. This is what Christian fiction should be like: bold in confronting the difficult, often ugly realities of life, and courageous in understanding that not everybody lives happily ever after, not everybody gets "saved," there aren't always answers to tough questions. (The author's deep love of John D ...more
BEST book I've read in a long time! The story revolves around highschool kids but I had no problem relating to them and was immediately drawn in. A great story about a pack of mangy kids, racism in the south, and some appearances of men in white bed sheets. (A side note, my sister-in-law edited this book, and I couldn't be more proud!)

EDIT (1-3-2011): I've just finished reading this book for the THIRD time and I loved it just as much as the first.
Jan 07, 2011 Lynn rated it really liked it
Intense, moving story that is loosely based on actual events of racial unrest that took place in Signal Mountain, Tenn. around 1979. The author was a fellow classmate at Furman. I had no idea Joy was an author till talking with her at our recent reunion. I am very impressed with her talent as a writer. Look forward to reading more of her work.
May 29, 2009 Amy rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Amy by: Jacqui
Shelves: book-club
This book is a page turner! I felt that the beginning was a little slow, but around page 75 the action picked up and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen. The author did a wonderful job of developing the characters through the development of the plot. I really felt connected to the characters, which is what I'm always looking for in a book.
Aug 07, 2008 Lailani rated it it was amazing
I wondered early into the story if I was going to enjoy this book - it turns out I really did. The story is built around true incidents that ocurred in Tennessee in the writers life. The colorful language of Jimbo and L.J., which did not include profanity, was refreshing and entertaining. I loved the wide array of personality that made up the "mangy pack."
Feb 29, 2012 Jan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012
This story had me nearly in tears at the ending. Kind of a coming of age story that deals with racism, foreigners, teens, the South, Klu Klux Klan, love of friends and siblings. Wonderfully written, reminding me of my teens and hanging out with my friends and complex relationships we had with each other but this story deals with a whole lot more than that.
Aug 19, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed savoring the descriptive phrases as they danced upon my imagination.
May 29, 2009 Patty rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! It was a page-turner with characters that I fell in love with. I could't put it down!
Jun 01, 2009 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
This book always held my interest. I absolutely fell in love with the characters and the relationships within the pack.
Feb 06, 2017 Tanya rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written book. The writing is amazing. It is a quite serious book and even depressing at times, but it gives much food for thought. It shakes you out of your comfort zone to do something better. While the end isn't a "happily ever after" ending per say, the end did hint at mercy and forgiveness and finding God. Hint is the key here.
Nov 07, 2014 Myranda rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 14, 2013 Faith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ill-list

This is the story of a Turtle in a swimming hole. Except Turtle is a girl, and the swimming hole is The Blue Hole.
The Blue Hole was the center of Shelby Lenoir's life that summer, in 1979.

This is one of those books... like Karl Marlantes' Matterhorn... that I have a love/hate relationship with. I love it because the redemptive storytelling is just so right, and I hate it because what happens in the story is just so wrong. Be prepared to mourn if you read either book, to mourn innocence lost a
Janice Dick
Jul 27, 2015 Janice Dick rated it it was amazing
Blue Hole Back Home is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long while. It gripped me from the beginning and wouldn’t let me go, even after the last page.

The author keeps ratcheting up the tension as the story progresses. She begins with “backstitching time…two dreams crisscrossing paths, one snagging the other in passing.” A face in the present brings memories of events that occurred twenty-five years past. What follows is a leap back in time to tell the story, leaving the reader anxious to kn
Dec 24, 2014 Greg rated it really liked it
Although the book starts slowly with a description of small town North Carolina life in the late 1970s, the pace picks up and drives home the point that the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s remained incomplete a decade later. By inference, one could argue that it remains incomplete today.

Author Joy Jordan-Lake describes a rather serene cocoon for a small group of teen-agers on summer break from school. Their world consists of their summer jobs in lawn and garden care and trips to a swimming ho
Oct 08, 2014 Auntie rated it it was ok
Shelves: finished
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 13, 2013 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read not only the story which kept my interest throughout but the style which made me feel like part of the story. I put off reading this for a while because although the reviews were good,they appeared to be all by women. This is not a chick book, it's about the post civil rights era in the South.I went to school there in the mid 60's and saw some ugly stuff towards minorities both on and off campus, apparently not much changed by the late 70's including the Klan.
I could identify with th
Feb 11, 2015 Catherine rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club-2015
I loved this book, though it wasn't always easy to read. A book to make you examine the nature of human beings--and their capacity for hate and love, cowardice and bravery, fear and hope, letting go of the past and what we know to face the future head-on and embracing change. I was almost the same age as the characters in this book in 1979 and it's still hard to accept that this was going on--and still does--in this country, that prides itself on being a haven and a melting pot. Well, maybe only ...more
Laura Carter
Mar 08, 2014 Laura Carter rated it liked it
I don't really know what I think about this book. The beginning was tortuously slow. Basically the first 3rd of the book was describing one day. I understand that the day was important, it was "the first day of the rest of the summer", but I think it was drawn out too long. Then the 2nd 3rd was interesting and intriguing. I liked the romantic triangles that created some drama and interest. Without at least Turtle's triangle it would have been very boring! The last 3rd was over the top intense co ...more
Toni Ressaire
Jul 17, 2013 Toni Ressaire rated it it was amazing
I've read upwards of 50 books this year, and Blue Hole Back Home was my favorite. Joy Jordan-Lake's writing style is prosaic. It's sheer beauty the way she combines a literary style with the simplicity of the character's point of view.

The story takes place in a rural mountain community after the close of the Civil Rights movement. In this small community, a young white girl befriends a black girl and learns the full brutality of racism. Joy takes us into the minds and spirits of the main charac
Dec 08, 2013 Tinamari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life is complicated. People are complicated. And yet life is sometimes also simple, and people sometimes can be expected to behave in certain ways. I believe Joy Jordan-Lake has achieved the balance between the complicated and the simple in this book: some things run the course which one expects them to run, but that does not mean that the loose ends which are so inherently part of real life are all tied up. The characters, especially Shelby, have a realness, an honesty to them which one rarely ...more
Feb 24, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it
Loved this book! It was fun revisiting a time when I myself was a teen and hearing of things I'd forgotten like parcheesi and 8 track tapes and stereos the size of a shoebox, not to mention the artist whose tapes we played...the eagles, Simon and Garfunkle, etc.
Then their was the lovely prose, that sounded better if you read it with a southern accent, and the wonderfully southern names that roll off your tongue.
Unlike Shelby I did not grow up in the south and did not face the racism she had to
Apr 27, 2010 Cafelilybookreviews rated it liked it

Having Southern roots and loving stories that are set in the South, I was anxious to read Blue Hole Back Home by Joy Jordan-Lake, which is based on a true story.

Though Pisgah Ridge, North Carolina is fictional just like the characters, it was easy to envision such a town while reading this story. It was easy to get lost in this book and feel like I was right there, as the events were happening.

The author shares a haunting, heart wrenching story of a friendship ripped apart by racism, which is ba
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“You've had a tough crack at life, I'll give you that. But you don't got to let the bad thrown at you become the ugly you think you got to be.” 7 likes
“Now all white Southern women keep as a weapon against uncouth world a certain smile that can be whipped out of storage and tacked up, in an instant, covering over a multitude of too-candid moments. My mother's face, whose upturned mouth never moved, registered confusion, then fear-then landed where I expected that steely doggedly cheerful resolve of a smile.” 2 likes
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