Early Thursday: A War, A Hurricane, A Miracle!
Reviewed By: Susan Keefe
Susan Keefe reviews and promotes poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and is also author of the Toby's Tails series of children's books.
The author as a child lived in Lake Charles, near Cameron which is the location of this story, when Hurricane Audrey hit the area in June 1957. She has, through thorough research, and listening to first-hand accounts of the local Cajun-French inhabitants of Cameron, written this heart-rending book. The sheer terror this natural disaster caused could be felt through the pages, as she revealed what it was like to experience first-hand what has been called one of the deadliest tropical cyclones in U.S. history.
Walt LaCour the protagonist, is a twelve years old boy. He lives in Cameron with his mother, younger brother Bobby and baby sister Faye. His father is a drunken fisherman, a man whose dreams have been destroyed, and who enjoys physically and mentally abusing his oldest son, for a reason Walt can’t understand. Avoiding his father, and with recurring drowning nightmares haunting his sleep, Walt’s only true friend and loyal companion is his beloved dog Pooch.
The beach-town of Cameron is located on the Gulf of Mexico, it is a close-knit community, and the village bar is its hub. Like all communities, its inhabitants have lived there for generations, their histories intertwining, memories go way back, and some of the current generations remember the WWII POW Camp nearby, and the impact its inhabitants had on the residents. Walt is to discover that it only takes a photo or a long lost letter to trigger a memory or even reveal a long-buried secret.
It is in the bar that Walt, his family, and friends discover on the news that a tropical storm has formed in the Gulf and is heading straight for them in southwest Louisiana. As the storm is upgraded to Hurricane Audrey, nothing could have prepared the inhabitants of this peaceful beach town for the devastation which was to follow, and the terrible loss of lives. However, it is a fact that community spirit is at its best in an emergency. Cameron’s residents pulled together, saved who they could, grieved, and then, as is human nature moved forward with their separate lives, forever linked by the common bond of the memories they share. For some, moving on is more difficult, and Walt finds himself troubled by regrets, guilt, and unanswered questions. However, one fateful day everything changes when he meets a stranger confronts him, and discovers he isn’t a stranger at all…
Many of us have watched on the television the damage hurricanes cause, however, the true magnitude of the devastation experienced by those who have lived through them is palpable in this incredible story. Walt’s path through life wasn’t an easy one, he suffered tragedy, love, pain, and a myriad of other emotions along the way, however, his and other stories like it deserve to be told, in memory of those who didn’t survive so they too can be remembered.
The author’s descriptive writing brings the swamps of southwest Louisiana, its people, wildlife, and climate to life. From Eli, an idiot savant with an incredible gift for violin playing, to Walt’s mother, a woman whose dream’s and life changed. This fictionalized memoir makes compelling reading and I highly recommend it.
Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Early-Thursday-War-Hurricane-Miracle/dp/1098304802/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1X3GCOEPID8CN&dchild=1&keywords=early+thursday+linda+s+cunningham&qid=1606390239&sprefix=early+thursday%2Caps%2C231&sr=8-1