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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Book Club

Book selections for 2022.

Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

(Image Credit: The Book of Lost Friends Official Website)

About the Book

A new novel inspired by historical events: a story of three young women on a journey in search of family amidst the destruction of the post-Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who rediscovers their story and its connection to her own students' lives.

Lisa Wingate brings to life stories from actual "Lost Friends" advertisements that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, as freed slaves desperately searched for loved ones who had been sold off.

Louisiana, 1875 In the tumultuous aftermath of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now-destitute plantation; Juneau Jane, her illegitimate free-born Creole half-sister; and Hannie, Lavinia's former slave. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following dangerous roads rife with ruthless vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and eight siblings before slavery's end, the pilgrimage westward reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the seemingly limitless frontiers of Texas and, improbably, hope.

Louisiana, 1987 For first-year teacher Benedetta Silva, a subsidized job at a poor rural school seems like the ticket to canceling her hefty student debt--until she lands in a tiny, out-of-step Mississippi River town. Augustine, Louisiana, seems suspicious of new ideas and new people, and Benny can scarcely comprehend the lives of her poverty-stricken students. But amid the gnarled oaks and run-down plantation homes lies the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything.

From GoodReads

About the Author

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the bestselling author of more than thirty books. Her blockbuster "Before We Were Yours" was on the NYT best seller list for over one year. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Utah Library Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. Lisa believes stories can change the world.

Additional Resources

Resources from The Historic New Orleans Collection

The Historic New Orleans Collection’s 2015 exhibition, Purchased Lives: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade, 1808–1865, continues online in virtual format. The virtual exhibition retains many resources that explore the Lost Friends’ history depicted in Lisa Wingate’s The Book of Lost Friends:

  • In Search of Freedom and Family - Explores the struggles of African Americans after the abolition of slavery
  • Lost Friends - Database that provides access to 2,450 advertisements that appeared in the Southwestern Christian Advocate between November 1879 and November 1896.


  • A Dream Delivered: The Lost Letters of Hawkins Wilson - In this documentary, we follow the incredible story of an African-American family who embarks on a journey of discovery after a lost letter from a formerly enslaved ancestor is unearthed. #ADreamDelivered THIS DOCUMENTARY IS PAID FOR BY ANCESTRY Start your Ancestry journey today at