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Blue Hole Back Home: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Joy Jordan-Lake
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"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 invites her to a secret haven: the Blue Hole. Turtle has no idea now much that simple gesture will affect the rest of her life, or the lives of those she loves.

In a time when America was technically well beyond the Civil Rights era, there were those in Turtle's small Appalachian town who rejected the presence of someone different. And in just one summer—in a collision of love, hate, jealousy, beauty, and a sacred, muddy swimming hole—nothing and everything changed.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joy Jordan-Lake lives in Brentwood, TN with her husband and three children, and teaches at Belmont University. She is also the author of Grit & Grace: Portraits of a Woman's Life; Whitewashing Uncle Tom's Cabin; Working Families; and Why Jesus Makes Me Nervous. In 2009, Blue Hole Back Home won the Christy Award for first novel.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2160 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005MT8RZO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,968 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightfully haunting book July 14, 2008
An unopened book is a tease that can lead to disappointment. But here is one that delivers. It's well-written and as deep as a blue-water swimming hole that kids used to flock to, before everyone put up no trespassing signs, afraid of liability.

It's a book that transports you to a time and place: 1979 on Pisgah Ridge in North Carolina, a community where "there were no blacks... Sure there were the ones who cleaned our houses and mowed our lawns, but they all left on the last bus" to return to the town in the valley. "And they knew enough to never miss that ride down."

The narrator, Shelby, is a high school sophomore and the only girl in a "mangy pack" consisting of her brother Emory, his best friend Jimbo Riggs --- son of the pastor of the largest Baptist church on the Ridge --- "and a spare friend of theirs and an excess cousin." Virtually every summer evening, these kids, riding in the back of Emory's pick-up, end up at a swimming hole --- not causing trouble, just hanging out.

But there's a new family on the Ridge, from Sri Lanka. They're not only dark-skinned but Muslim. Rather impulsively, Turtle invites the teen daughter, Sanna, to ride along to Blue Hole. Over the summer, she's tentatively, then dramatically, welcomed into the group. But not everybody is ready for an integrated Ridge, say nothing of an integrated creek.

Right up front, before the flashback, the reader knows something will go awry: "It was the men in white bed sheets that changed us forever --- them and the Blue Hole, that is."

The narrator doesn't claim a Christian faith, neither as a teen nor as an adult transplanted to Boston.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable March 27, 2008
Joy Jordan-Lake has crafted a beautiful, tragic southern tale that will have you exclaiming, "Great day in the mornin'!" with tears running down your cheeks. Well, before you do that you'll long for a wide front porch with a screen to keep out the bugs and a slippery glass of sweet iced tea. You'll laugh with and love Shelby Lenoir, big brother Emerson and best friend James Beauregard (could the names be any more beautifully southern?). The characters are lively and imaginative. I fell in love with them all - Mollybird Pitman included. Well, I'm not sure that I loved Mort Beckwith but he was imperative to the story so I tolerated him and his band of idiots. I am not a writer (and if you've read this far you've surmised as much) but I do know good writing when I see it. You simply must read this book. It is, sadly, relevant for our world even now. So there... There's my very first amazon review. Now stop reading my feeble words and buy or borrow a copy. You will not regret it.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harsh Realities, Great Writing March 15, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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 during 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 teenagers come to grips with the terrorism of the KKK that broils under the surface of gentile southern manners. The first few chapters loll about like a lazy summer day, but set the stage for a startling and terrifying climax. This is a very good, very sad, very real story.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tragic coming of age story March 3, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent book. January 29, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book so much that I bought several additional copies to share with friends. The author writes with great sensitivity about a group of high school friends in the South during the 1960's. The character studies were flawless. The emotions were deep. The subject of segragation during it's early years was superb.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking March 13, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a book that will not be forgotten because it still is timely in many ways. It illustrates how one's actions can affect another who in turn touches another and eventually many are touched. It is well worth your time to read this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written April 30, 2008
Both lyrical and visual, Jordan-Lake's writing will take you right "Back Home" along with Turtle, Jimbo and all the memorable characters on Pisgah Ridge. Based on a real life experience of the author's and set, unbelievably (!) in 1979, this is an important and relevant story of racial unrest in the south...not in the 40's or 50's but in the late 70's! Where were you when, and what music were you listening to and can you believe something like this could have happend so recently? All of these questions you will ask the book clubs, relatives and friends that you will HAVE to recommend, share and gift this book to after you read it. Laugh-out-loud come backs, take-your-breath-away descriptions and tears-streaming-down-your-face climaxes are this writer's gift to all who take the plunge into the Blue Hole.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the lives of these teenagers with different backgrounds and...
I enjoyed the lives of these teenagers with different backgrounds and cultures. They became friends and took care of each other. Nice read.
Published 6 days ago by Irma jiminez
5.0 out of 5 stars I just wish it didn't have to end
This book is beautiful. It broke my heart. This book will stick with me and the characters will live in my heart for always.
Published 1 month ago by Toni L. Groves
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice story. Joy Jordan-Lake does a good job with ...
Nice story. Joy Jordan-Lake does a good job with the setting and dialogue to create a earthy and authentic moment in time. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Paul Kucharski
4.0 out of 5 stars Intense
The time period this book is set in is when we moved to Louisiana after being in Europe for four years. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Maria Lunn
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I really enjoyed this book
Published 2 months ago by linda simon
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed reading the questions and the authors answers
The author made this fiction story come to life. The ending was not what I expected and brought tears. I enjoyed reading the questions and the authors answers, also.
Published 5 months ago by Anna
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare book
I was intrigued at first since I also grew up with my brother and other boys. What a difficult situation for these young teens. The worst was that no justice was ever done. Read more
Published 5 months ago by dianka
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good character development, at times the story seemed to drag. But I finished reading it.
Published 5 months ago by Margaret Mauro
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously wonderful read reflecting the racial attitudes in the South...
Seriously wonderful read reflecting the racial attitudes in the South in the 1960s. Being a 1961 model I have witnessed the changes in racial attitudes as well as stubborn... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ann Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars I was surprise at the ending. In the beginning ...
I was surprise at the ending. In the beginning of the book I was angry because I felt that the new girl was going to be killed by those racist people but as I kept reading I just... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Carol Hamilton
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More About the Author

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 vivid childhood memory was watching her mother weep in front of the television, where newscasters were just reporting the shooting of Martin Luther King, Jr. Later moving south with her family, she grew up on Signal Mountain, Tennessee, just outside Chattanooga, where she learned to observe the ways in which communities respond with courage to bigotry and violence--or fail to do so.

After earning a bachelors degree from Furman University and a masters from a theological seminary, Joy re-located to the Boston, Massachusetts, area where she earned a masters and a Ph.D. in English Literature from Tufts University, and specialized in the role of race in 19-century American fiction.

While in New England, she founded a food pantry targeting low-income and homeless families, served on the staff of a multi-ethnic church in Cambridge, worked as a free-lance journalist, and became a Baptist chaplain at Harvard. Her first book, Grit and Grace: Portraits of a Woman's Life (Harold Shaw Publishers, 1997), was a collection of stories, poems and essays which The Chicago Tribune described this way: "Written with much heart and wit, this little gem of a book touches on the ordinary and profound experiences that make up a woman's life . . . a poignant and satisfying collection . . . funny and sad, inspiring and awfully surprising."

Joy's second book, Whitewashing Uncle Tom's Cabin: Nineteenth-Century Women Novelists Respond to Stowe (Vanderbilt University Press, 2005) continued her doctoral dissertation work, exploring the inter-weavings of literature, theology, and race in American culture.

During this period, life for Joy and her husband, Todd Lake, was becoming increasingly chaotic with two careers, numerous re-locations for Todd's work, two young biological children and the adoption of a baby girl from China. Joy's nearly-manic need to ask everyone around her about how they managed--or not--to balance kids and career led to her third book, Working Families: Navigating the Demands and Delights of Marriage, Parenting and Career (WaterBrook/ Random House, 2007). Publishers Weekly called the book, "refreshing for its social conscience," and written with "sharp humor and snappy prose."

In its review of Joy's fourth book, Why Jesus Makes Me Nervous: Ten Alarming Words of Faith (Paraclete Press, 2007), Publishers Weekly again praised the author: "A professor at Belmont University and a former Baptist chaplain at Harvard University , the author mines her personal illumine and interpret ideas such as...hope. Sometimes wry, occasionally stern, Jordan-Lake, with a touch of Southern gothic sensibility...has a gift for welcoming, lucid and insightful prose...."

Joy's first novel, Blue Hole Back Home, published in 2008 and inspired by actual events from her own teenage years, explores the tensions and eventual violence that erupt in a small, all-white Appalachian town when a Sri Lankan family moves in. Ultimately, Blue Hole Back Home, which bestselling author Leif Enger called "beautifully crafted," is a story not only of the devastating effects of racial hatred and cowardice, but more centrally, a celebration of courage, confrontation and healing. Currently being used by colleges, high schools and middle schools around the country, Blue Hole Back Home was recently chosen as Baylor University's Common Book, read and discussed by 4,000 entering first-year students.

Her current project, Steal Away, is the first novel in a trilogy set in 1843-1850, a peak era for the Underground Railroad. Moving between Charleston, South Carolina, and Boston, Massachusetts, the novel grew out of her doctoral research, and draws upon the peculiar, often painful and always intriguing twists and turns, complexities and contradictions of actual history.

Having taught at universities in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas, Joy Jordan-Lake currently teaches part time at Belmont University in Tennessee. In addition to her time writing and in the classroom, she is a frequent speaker at retreats, workshops and conferences. Residing just south of Nashville, she and her husband share life with their three fabulous children, as well as the family's sweet, needy Golden Retriever and two cats.

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