Lavina by Mary Marcus An Above the Treeline review copy
Lavina is a story that will be compared to The Help but I don’t think so completely. Lavina is more raw. The Help introduced us to the other side of the story and we were all pretty much in “huh!” mode. If The Help opened the doors to more books told from the servant’s point of view then it is all a good thing.
Lavina is a cook and housekeeper for Mary Jacob’s family in the mid-1960’s. Mary Jacob’s best friend through life is Lavina. She finds solace and understanding and love in Lavina that she doesn’t find in her own family. But Lavina has a life outside the kitchen of the white family she serves. Her son Billy Ray is left to eat day old leftovers from a white family’s table, raise himself, and come out right in the end. But the resentment is there for this whole life.
Mary Jacob spends her life trying to understand small town Louisiana’s feelings about the black and white ‘situation.’ She’s young. One day an event changes all of their lives, Lavina’s, Billy Ray’s and Mary Jacob’s, as sometimes one event in our lives can do.
Mary Jacob escapes to New York and makes a life for herself but decades later she is called home by her vindictive sister to tend to her dying father , the father that never showed one minute of support or love to Mary Jacob. Of course she goes. She listens and she learns things she didn’t know or understand as a child and must now deal with the knowing. There is always more than one side to any story.
This book really pulled me in and while I didn’t like what I was seeing, I learned.