Blue Weeds: The Alchemy of a Cajun Childhood
by Francois Meaux
Balboa Press

"My mother was my first alchemist."

Nostalgia is a wonderful, refreshing tonic for many people. It is a kindly balm that they use to cocoon themselves within friendly moments from the past, whenever the present seems unwelcoming. All the memories recalled are usually, by nature, filled with warmth and comfort. It is an increasingly common practice for an artist to return to where they began and reminisce. Thus when a reader is confronted by a voyage home that isn't needlessly one dimensional and instead explores all the various emotions of childhood, the content comes to life.

Such is the case with this book. It is a treasure and a profound joy to read. Meaux has penned a captivating and engaging memoir that manages to avoid all the usual pitfalls of such an enterprise. The author discovers the best and worst of childhood as he is plunged into the many different features of small-town living. Each triumph is followed by a surprising setback and an occasional tragedy. Yet, we subtlety witness the growing strength and knowledge these experiences have on the young man. This helpfully reminds us that no experience is ever wasted if remembered and used later.

With echoes of Jimmy Carter's An Hour Before Daylight, the narrative is dominated by the rich heritage of southern Louisiana and Cajun living. Despite being a work of nonfiction, it is filled with a Greek chorus of wonderful and intriguing characters that any novelist would love to write about. The landscape of this portion of the South is made vivid in the reader's mind. It evokes the atmosphere of a remembered land and brings to our recollection the bittersweet lessons of life.

A 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award da Vinci Eye Finalist

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