What the Bayou Saw by Patti Lacy is a poignant story about the damage secrets and lies can wreak as they grow unhindered. Sally Stevens has built a life of secrets and lies she hides behind her smile and Southern drawl. She's learned how to avoid difficult situations by telling a lie that's more easily digested than the truth and seasoning it with wide eyes, smiles, and waving her hands, but it all starts coming to the surface when first she is confronted by three of her students who want her to stop teaching her college class with a Christian tone. Then her favorite student is raped and beaten and accuses those same young men. Her carefully constructed world begins to totter and fall and she is forced to face the secret she has held for over forty years. The lie that destroyed her best friendship, tainted her marriage, and has colored every aspect of her life since. Lacy describes the lies in Sally's life using several metaphors throughout the book; the best is kudzu, at first beautiful but then suffocating and causing death. The beginning of the book setting up the outer frame story is a bit clumsy at first, but Lacy does an awe-inspiring job of talking about the issues of racism that we all want to pretend don't exist anymore. The novel is a gritty, unflinching look at the sins of our nation's past and how they still haunt us today and will continue to do so until we finally face them head-on.
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