Fleming H. Revell Company
January 2, 2018
December 28, 2017
There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse's stunning debut, Missing Isaac.
It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople's reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac. In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it's all over, Pete--and the people he loves most--will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.
Missing Isaac swallowed me whole! I was so taken with the story that it was hard to put down. The last two nights, I was up until 4:00 a.m. turning pages because I didn’t want to stop. That’s how much I enjoyed it!
What Makes Missing Isaac So Good?
I’ve struggled with putting my finger on what made this book so enjoyable to me.
Think of reading a story like driving a car. Most times, when I get behind the wheel, I’m only interested in getting from point A to point B. With Missing Isaac, I find myself driving down a country road, with so much contrasting beauty and disaster around me that I want to slow down, open the windows, and just savor the ride!
This story takes you back to a time before video games, before cell phones, before the “expectancy” that is so prevalent in today’s attitudes. Set in the rural south of 1960s America, it demonstrates how people of very different castes can live together. Missing Isaac speaks of profound friendships, innocent love – both found and lost, and romance that is not confined to a single generation, nor comprised of sex and heavy breathing. It resonates with the power of values and family.
The storyline behind Missing Isaac is very good, yet the story itself would not be so fabulously engaging without the craft behind it. I think even a mediocre author could make this story work, but the finesse of Valerie Fraser Luesse breathed life into these characters, and painted vivid colors over the settings.
There are stories out there that readers never forget. This is one of them.
If I had to be critical of one thing in Missing Isaac, I wouldn’t have anything to write.
I don’t recall any SPAG errors. Further, I consider the character arcs to be the epitome of character arcs!
I do wish a sequel was available, or at least in the works. It seems to me that at least two sequels could come from this. I would gladly buy them!
5 thoughts on “Missing Isaac”
On behalf of Glory, Alabama, thank you so much for your very kind review. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed visiting this little fictional corner of my home state!
If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know that I don’t inflate them. I consider Missing Isaac to be one of the best books I’ve ever read! Now, about that sequel….
I love that you were up so late because you couldn’t put this book down. You mentioned great characterization and a vivid setting so I know this author is talented and since these are important factors in my book selection, I know i’ll love this one. Thanks for the great review.
Only read 25 pages. HARD TO PUT DOWN
I’m a read-all-night kind of person, so this sounds lovely to me!