Waiting for Augusta by Jessica Lawson
There is something unique about The South. I cross over the Mason-Dixon Line and can sense it almost immediately. My mother used to say that the air felt "softer". I find myself having a similar sensation whenever I encounter the warm, fragrant, and languid atmosphere that envelops all of my senses whenever I set foot into Southern territory.
Waiting for Augusta by Jessica Lawson has some of that same Southern softness. There is a warmth and gentleness, combined with the humor provided by local colorful "characters" that give every Southern community its charm.
If you are waiting for a summer book filled with Southern deliciousness, I recommend coming along on this trip to Augusta, Georgia. It's magical.
Life has been difficult for our young protagonist. He never seemed to measure up to his father's expectations. His father loved two things: golf and barbecued pork. Ben prefers drawing and painting. Now his father is dead and Ben is left wondering if his father really loved him, if he is meant to follow his father's footsteps or if he should chose another path.
He meets a mysterious girl named Noni and together they set out on a quest to bring Ben closure by transporting his father's ashes to the Augusta National Golf Tournament and scattering them on the eighteenth hole.
Noni has her own secrets and joins the journey, searching for her own sign.
This odyssey involves hopping atop the coal car of a passing train, stealing a truck and driving (yes, eleven year old Ben drives while Noni attempts to navigate) and hiding out in a peach orchard.
The youngsters' pilgrimage from Hilltop, Alabama to Augusta, Georgia is peppered by encounters with quirky characters. Pastor Frank owns the local bar, which is presided over by Mrs. Clucksy, a chicken who in addition to picking up stray corn nuts on the counter top, also serves as overnight security for the bar's cash. Pastor Frank hides the night's earnings in a plastic egg, which resides safely in Mrs. Clucksy nest inside the hen house.
Did I mention that Benjamin's father speaks to him? His father (from inside the urn) and Ben often engage in soul-searching conversations. But then, many objects both real and inanimate speak to Ben. From the mosquito on his arm to the kitchen appliances, all have something to say to this boy.
Near the conclusion of the book, readers will begin to sense what is coming (no spoilers from me). I will say that the ending left me with a huge lump in my throat. And I don't want it to ever go away.