Read from September 18 to 22, 2015
Five glorious, shining stars for a book that captured my imagination and my heart! Thanks for bringing Meriwether to life once more, Andra. I think Merry would be proud and happy to know that not only was he one of the greatest explorers of our beautiful nation but also an adventurous spirit guide in Nowhere, an imaginary place I wish to steer clear of. Creepy! As I mentioned before, Meriwether Lewis is a relative of my father's family. I grew up with general knowledge about Lewis and Clark but never pulled any of my father's books about Meriwether from the shelves. Such a shame because the life and time of Meriwether Lewis is completely fascinating. Even his death! When I first learned of Andra's books, I was instantly intrigued. I reached out to Watkins on Goodreads and she told me that she had a special interest in Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. I have to believe her, especially when she decided to walk the entire Natchez Trace, the same Natchez Trace that Lewis and Clark traveled, and then write a book about her adventures called Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace . If that doesn't prove an author's love and belief in her subject, what ever will?! Completely inspiring! I have every intention of reading that book next.
New Orleans, 1977. Emmaline Cagney's mother is awarded full custody of her beautiful nine year old daughter. Emmaline is devastated to be seperated from her father. Had the judge asked for her preference, Em would've chosen to live with her dad. The reader soon learns the reasoning behind the little girl's longings for her father. Emmaline lives with her mother in a boarding house in the French Quarters. Aunt Bertie is Emmaline's caregiver, a nanny of sorts, someone Em loves and trusts as much as her father. When chaos enters Em's home, it's Aunt Bertie that helps Emmaline escape a gruesome fate. In the meantime, Meriwether Lewis is suspended somewhere between life and death. He has one opportunity left to escape Nowhere's eternity, an eternity that is worse than death itself. Lewis and Emmaline Cagney's lives will collide in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is their journey on the Natchez Trace together that can set them free, returning child to a beloved father and an adventuring hero back to the pages of history.
"My heart twisted. It was a haunted place. A desperate place. The last place I walked in life. Breathed my last breath. A neighborhood I never thought I'd be forced to walk again. What would happen if I stepped across my own grave? The exact spot where I expired? The shallow trench where they threw me? Hasty, like they wanted to blot out the evidence of what they did. What they made me do." --
Meriwether Lewis, To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis by Andra Watkins.
To Live Forever twists and bends all genres. There's enough here for everyone to love. Watkins takes a piece of American history, adds a bit of ghoulish charm, sprinkles in some magical realism, and serves up fiction at it's best. Keeping a space open on my bookshelf for all Andra Watkins' books. I'm planning a trip to Natchez, Mississippi and walk a bit of the Trace myself. I'd also like to pay my respects to Meriwether Lewis, an ancestor that will forever be a living legend.