Leslee Breene will touch your heart with Journey to Sand Castle. The book delves into many emotions, but the greatest is the healing power of love.
As Hurricane Katrina rages in New Orleans, divorced teacher Tess Cameron does what she can to help victims as they pour into the school for protection. Utter chaos leaves people in a panic: families are separated, there is little food and water, and no electricity. Hope of returning to their normal lives dwindles with every moment. As the people leave the school for more permanent shelters, Tess is left with a little bi-racial girl, Crystal, the daughter of a fellow teacher, a single mother, whose whereabouts is unknown. A three-legged cat is also thrown into the mix, a newly acquired pet of Crystal’s.
Tess’s teaching job and apartment are destroyed, but rather than seek temporary shelter with the other victims, she attempts to take Crystal to her grandfather in Sand Castle, Colorado in the San Luis Valley. When she finds the crusty, bitter man, she’s discouraged by his apparent disinterest in his granddaughter. Left in a quandary, but wanting to do the right thing for Crystal, Tess tries to find a job to tide her over until she can get her life, and the life of her little charge, in some kind of order. She learns that Grant Wilder, a widowed rancher/outfitter, needs a cook and someone to keep house. Tess isn’t much of a cook and has never considered herself anything more than a wandering spirit, a rolling stone, but for the sake of Crystal, accepts this temporary job and, with the little girl, moves onto the ranch.
The story develops into an exciting drama as fate spins its magic in the lives of those involved.
On a personal note, I was intrigued with the theme of Hurricane Katrina. As an American Red Cross volunteer, I spent several weeks in Louisiana assisting the victims of this horrendous disaster. I could relate to the profound loss and confusion of Katrina’s aftermath as Breene describes it in this novel.
I highly recommend Journey to Sand Castle. It’s a memorable novel of depth and redemption.