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Blue Hole Back Home

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,394 ratings  ·  176 reviews
In a time when cross burnings and men in white hoods appeared to be a thing of the past, a small town confronts a kind of hate it thought had long since died out…

Shelby Lenoir Maynard, nicknamed Turtle, has never much trusted girls her own age, spending her days instead with her brother and his pack of friends. But when a mysterious Sri Lankan girl of Moorish descent mov
Paperback, 2nd, 400 pages
Published October 1st 2017 by Triple Falls Press (first published February 29th 2008)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  1,394 ratings  ·  176 reviews

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I must say the writing in this book is fabulous; it is absolutely stunning in its 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 disappoin
Karen R
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A moving coming of age story that will leave readers with much to think about.
Told in retrospect, from the first person viewpoint of a woman recalling a pivotal summertime when her small world in the North Carolina mountains lost its sense of peace, and the 'blue hole' swimming spot became a crucible for friendship, justice, and mercy.

Told in the lyrical Southern style of mountain raised teenagers, the story lulled me into feeling like I was there, jumping into the back of a pickup with the 'ma
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 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
Debra Davis
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blue Hole Back Home

It is 2019 and this ugly cancer boils to the surface even still. We have to be stronger and not be afraid to stand against prejudice. It won’t go away on its own.
Bambi Rathman
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I will always remember reading. To me it was an emotionally difficult read. I read it with dread in my stomach almost the whole entire time. I wanted things to be so different and I knew they wouldn't be. It is so well written. There are so many lines that were very made me wonder how there could be such extreme hate... "The human heart gone to rot." It made me have so many feelings spending the summer with the "Mangy Gang" and living their lives through the raci ...more
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all I have to thank NetGalley for the honor of reading such a touching and heartfelt book. It is truly a story that everyone should read.

I hate prejudice. It’s something I find I have very little patience with. I was born and raised in the south and have alway rebelled against hating someone because of the color of their skin, or their religious beliefs or sexual preferences. I try my best to love everyone and treat everyone with respect. Now, the bigots, haters and ones who think their
Feb 15, 2014 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
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think perhaps the best books are books whose message to you is perhaps not the one you were expecting after you finished the book, or even the one that the author was intending to convey. These kind of books reach you at a soul level and allow you to understand what God wants you to learn.
I didn't think this book would be that kind of book for me. Yes, the writing was amazingly evocative. Yes, the characters were beautifully flawed, yet somehow relatable in the best kind of way. Yes, the story
Mar 15, 2009 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
Denise Ballentine
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 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 04, 2013 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
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.
Aug 07, 2008 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." ...more
May 29, 2009 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. ...more
Jan 07, 2011 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.
Feb 29, 2012 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.
May 29, 2009 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! ...more
Jun 01, 2009 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 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed savoring the descriptive phrases as they danced upon my imagination.
Shari Ring Wolf
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best as audio book

Loved LOVED listening to the audio version of this book! I usually far prefer reading, but the narrator of this edition added huge dimensions to each character in the book, particularly Shelby/Turtle.
The story is set in the 1980's, with a group of teenagers as the main characters. They live in a small mountain town in the South. While we usually connect the Klan (KKK) and racial hatred to the era of the Sixties, this story tells the true tale of intolerance and hatred being al
B Roberts
The Ending is Pathetic/white leftist writer shames white people

The basic story and characters are interesting. This author's writing style is frustrating . I had challenges with the most recent novel too, Under a Gilded Moon. There is in an overuse of descriptions in certain unimportant to the story scenarios, but a glossing over of key elements. It often left me confused and forced to re-read sections. Implausible at times, e.g., what natural causes can kill off two people in their late 50's, e
Kymberli Ward
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is absolutely exceptional. I learned of Joy Jordan-Lake's books in reverse as "A Tangled Mercy" was a Kindle first offering; on finishing that, I couldn't wait to read "Blue Hole Back Home." And as I write this review, I am still immersed in Turtle's world, and reeling from the stark reality of the not-unexpected, but so well-done ending. Brilliantly written, beautifully-drawn characters, and sadly, so very timely.

I have not read all the other reviews; I suspect there are some, like me
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Blue Hole... Made me think deeply, feel intimately ,see the years I grew up in me want to rise to the occasions in my life when I see injustice rather than play it "safe". These characters are unique, intriguing , ingenious, multi-layered, memorable. Joy Jordan-Lake captured such subtle nuances of their thoughts and actions. I stole moments in the bathroom, listened as I drove and as I ate, as I cooked and as I worked just to spend time with them. I love Angela Dawe's narrative , It adds
Diane O.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I read, I was taken to a lovely place with interesting characters whose complicated culture and ethics are all too representative of humans everywhere. However, we are shown in this book what can happen when cultural influences override the "better angels". How this all works out makes for an intriguing book - one that is hard to put down and whose message will not be forgotten. The descriptions are vivid, the writing excellent, the story compelling! ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is very well-written, and is raw yet hopeful. It is based on several incidents in the Southern town where the author grew up. It is set in the late 70s or early 80s, but the message is very relevant today. Racism and privilege aren't things of the past, even though it's more comfortable for us to believe it is (like the characters in the book did). I strongly recommend it, but the book hit me hard, and when I was done, I had to switch to something light and fluffy. ...more
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

As in A Tangled Mercy, the author does an incredible job of drawing you into the characters and the story. Before you know it, you are hooked, tearful, and awed at the depth of the lesson. The complexity of the characters and the insight of the protagonist is nothing more than inspiring. I must admit that the first few chapters seemed simplistic, but the investment is well worth it.
Beth Jackson-jordan
A captivating story that taps into our society's struggle with issues of racial bias and white supremacy. It also includes a wrenching commentary on the many barriers facing the immigrant community in this country that are as difficult today as several decades ago as when this story takes place. Could be a great resource for group discussions on racial reconciliation. ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Default edition 4 28 Oct 24, 2017 04:21PM  

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Joy Jordan-Lake's varied--and admittedly odd--professional experience has included working as a college professor, author, journalist, waitress, director of a program for homeless families, university chaplain, horseback riding instructor, free lance photographer, and --the job title that remains her personal favorite--head sailing instructor.

Born in Washington, D.C., Joy Jordan-Lake's first vivi

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