Alligator Lake

Written by Lynne Bryant
Review by Patricia O’Sullivan

Ten years ago Avery Pritchett fled Mississippi brokenhearted and pregnant. Now her brother wants her to return for his wedding, but Avery isn’t sure she’s ready to face the inevitable questions about her mixed-race daughter or the memories of that horrible night years ago when she nearly ruined the life of the man she loved. But Avery’s daughter is sick with a genetic disease, and Avery has questions for her family about their own racial background that Avery knows they won’t want to answer.

Alligator Lake is a compelling story about a young woman’s search for redemption in a Mississippi town that does not easily forgive those who violate the social codes of class and race. There is so much to like in this novel that is part The Help and part Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Bryant grounds her tale in familiar historical events, including the establishment of the White Citizens’ Council in 1955 and the integration of the University of Mississippi by James Meredith in 1962. But Mississippi’s troubled history is more than a backdrop in this story. Bryant does not take the easy route of writing only main characters who protest Mississippi’s strict social code. Some of her characters support segregation. By putting readers inside the heads of these characters, Bryant exposes how racism relies on class struggle and the role white-on-white intimidation plays in maintaining the Southern social system.