Blue Hole Back Home
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Blue Hole Back Home

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  460 ratings  ·  97 reviews
"Sacred's not a word I've ever much liked. But maybe some things, and some places, just are. And maybe the Blue Hole was one of those things."

Shelby (nicknamed Turtle) never had any female friends. But when a mysterious girl from Sri Lanka moved to town in the summer of 1979, Turtle invited her to a secret haven: the Blue Hole. Turtle had no idea how much that simple gestu...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2008 by David C. Cook (first published February 29th 2008)
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Christy Award Winners
47th out of 118 books — 85 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,169)
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librarian4Him02
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...more
Hannah
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...more
Elizabeth
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...more
Denise
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
Debbie
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
Buffy Greentree
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...more
Hillary
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...more
Amy
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
Jacqui
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.
Lailani
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."
Amy
Jul 30, 2009 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
Jan
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.
Barbara
This book always held my interest. I absolutely fell in love with the characters and the relationships within the pack.
Patty
I really enjoyed this book! It was a page-turner with characters that I fell in love with. I could't put it down!
Ruth Ann
Joy Jordan-Lake sets Blue Hole Back Home in 1979 in a small Appalachian town in North Carolina and draws inspiration for her tale from events in her childhood. She writes a compelling story with detail that brings her characters to life. This coming of age story packs a punch that brings the main character, Turtle, to ponder during the climax:
"...it was the death of what we thought we've been doing, where we'd thought we were living, the death of being able to believe anymore in our innocence a
...more
Karen
I enjoyed savoring the descriptive phrases as they danced upon my imagination.
Faith Farrell


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...more
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...more
Steve
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...more
Toni Ressaire
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...more
Sally
Every once in a while, you read a book that you become so totally immersed in, it is difficult to extricate yourself once it ends. This is just such a book. I finished reading of Turtle, Jimbo, the new girl and the rest over a week ago, and yet like a hot, humid summer day, the spell wraps it's self around me.
Cafelilybookreviews


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...more
Julie
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...more
Tinamari
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
Krista
The author of this book is genuine talent. She tells a tale that seems in places to be as much poetry as it is novel. Her characters are wonderful and round to the extent that I felt like I was a neighbor to the kids in "the mangy pack" in this tale. I so often felt as I did growing up in a rural neighborhood as I played out the story of "Turtle" in my head. However, it was the end that disappointed me. A horrible event occurs at the end. I wasn't prepared for it and worse still, nothing seemed...more
Joanna
While I'm enjoyed this 2009 Christy Award (Christian fiction) winner, I can't give it five stars. The subject of the book is race relations and the plot centers on teenagers. Those who claim to be Christians are racist and those who are "unchurched" live more "Christian" lives. Real world stuff, huh? One unusual twist in this book which gives it a fresh perspective is that the object of racism in this community is a family from Sri Lanka. My reservation on this book is that I never felt any desi...more
Jenn
Jan 01, 2013 Jenn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: to-own
"I was sucking in deep the scent of the mountains, like incense maybe for people who pray."

"And me, I sat wondering what to do. Momma would've served sweet tea and brownies and asked everyone how they, bless their hearts, were feeling. And Jesus, maybe would've faced Mecca and prayed along with the rumple-suited Baptist and the Sri Lankan invader-though I wouldn't know."

"Em joined a church-though at least only an Episcopal church, so it could've been worse."

"Letting things roll along for the s...more
Rebecca
This was a real surprise. I loved the cover, but at first it took me a chapter or two to get into the rhythm of the story. I'm glad I persisted, as it soon hit that special point where you begin to not be able to put the book down! A touching, tragic, very well-written story, such an enjoyable read. The only downside for me was that it left me reeling with a deep sense of sadness and hopelessness right at the end... That the characters, as far as we can tell, were mostly never able to get over t...more
Elaine
The summer of 1979 and a new girl from Sri Lanka moves into a white, southern town. A tomboy befriends her and they hang out with her gang (mostly boys). Signs of trouble begin to take place then the Klu Klux Klan set fire to the new girl's home which causes the death of her mother and one of the boys in the group. There is no happy ending - no one is charged and the family moves away to Washington. Sad to hear that even as late as the 1970's racial hatred was still prevalent in the south. The w...more
Kitty
LOVED this book! After I read it, I read it again! Very thought provoking!
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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.” 6 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.” 1 likes
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