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Blue Hole Back Home: Inspired by a True Story

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  734 Ratings  ·  123 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
Hardcover, Large Print, 481 pages
Published January 20th 2010 by Thorndike Press (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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2014 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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 30, 2009 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 05, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 24, 2014 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 11, 2014 Myranda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
Feb 27, 2015 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 07, 2008 Lailani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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."
Jul 30, 2009 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 03, 2012 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 27, 2011 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Anne Hamilton
Jan 01, 2015 Anne Hamilton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
A poignant heart–rending story, shot through with darkness and splinters of grace. Turtle spontaneously asks the ‘new girl’, Farsanna from Sri Lanka, to join the ‘mangy pack’ at the Blue Hole. It’s a sweltering summer in a tiny community in the Deep South—a place where racial tension is a thing of the long–forgotten past decades. Or is it? Turtle’s action is about to bring to the surface poison that has been hiding away for years.

Through a combination of naïvety, innocence and a reckless joy in
Aug 07, 2009 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This book always held my interest. I absolutely fell in love with the characters and the relationships within the pack.
Aug 01, 2009 Patty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 11, 2014 Ruth Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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:
" 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
Aug 19, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed savoring the descriptive phrases as they danced upon my imagination.
Mar 17, 2015 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The time period this book is set in is when we moved to Louisiana after being in Europe for four years. I was in middle school the year this is set and had just finished taking Louisiana history and first learned of the Klan. This was also when I first realized I was the product of a "mixed" marriage (father Asian and mother white) and a Catholic. I imagined a cross burning on our front yard anytime. Luckily we lived in an area of Louisiana that was very influenced by the military so no r
Janice Dick
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
Laura Carter
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
May 20, 2014 Faith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 28, 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
Toni Ressaire
Jul 18, 2013 Toni Ressaire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 24, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A much better book than I expected. Although the setting of this book is 1979, thirty+ years later, the shootings in Ferguson and Charlotte and around the country are evidence that inclusivity is still a dream for many people and not wanted or welcomed by some. What is it going to take for us to not judge by the color of one's skin or social economic status?
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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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