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Early Thursday: A War, A Hurricane, A Miracle! by Linda S. Cunningham

Memories of Hurricane Audrey.

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.



About the Author:

Linda S. Cunningham grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she experienced firsthand accounts of the 1957 hurricane that killed nearly five hundred people in Cameron, Louisiana. She and her family watched the devastation from their picture window. Her father, who served as Director of Civil Defense for Calcasieu Parish, told her the survival stories and gave her access to the coroner’s pictures that lend authenticity to the novel.

She has a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. She also has a B.S. and M.Ed. in Health and Physical Education from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She has won awards for screenwriting. She currently resides in Kingwood, Texas.

About the Book:

More than a decade after the end of WWII, the joie de vivre of the Cajun-French culture returns to southwest Louisiana. Spirits are buoyed, and for twelve-year-old Walt LaCour, life is idyllic―except for the caustic relationship with his father. A discovery of a paternity scandal makes Walt wonder if it’s true that a German POW could be his real father. The days before the storm, Walt and his family try to protect his friend’s Stradivarius violin from being stolen until Hurricane Audrey hits taking with her nearly 500 lives and every shred of normalcy Walt had ever called his own.

In this fictionalized memoir, an aged Walt LaCour begins with his childhood desperation to find his roots, firmly believing that knowing his history will bring him a separate kind of peace. As Hurricane Audrey pummels his home town, he braves 20-foot tidal waves and eventually comes face-to-face with his own mortality. Later, as a college student, a mysterious classmate taunts him with knowledge of secrets Walt has never told another living soul, and Walt begins to suspect that there was more to his experience in the hurricane than he ever realized.

Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Early-Thursday-War-Hurricane-Miracle/dp/1098...

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