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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
The Last of the Baileys by Paula Paul is a gentle tale of family and relationships set in the tiny West Texas town of Anton. When Trudy Bailey Walters’ husband dies, leaving her penniless, the nearly 70-year-old decides her only option is to move back to the old Bailey house in Anton and live the remainder of her days in quiet obscurity with only her long-term neighbor Adam, a descendant of the Bailey family slaves, for companionship. Little does Trudy know how her world is about to be turned upside down by the appearance of her nephew’s ex-wife and rebellious teenage daughter, never mind a Guatemalan fugitive from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who is seeking to be reunited with the daughter she was separated from at the border. Throw in a handsome, kindly local sheriff and you have all the ingredients for a fun and dangerous adventure. Trudy and her unlikely comrades are determined to help Marta find and reunite with her daughter Concepcion, despite the best attempts of the United States Immigration Services.
The Last of the Baileys is one of those books that just grows on you and gets under your skin the more you delve into it. Paula Paul has created a wonderful, eclectic bunch of characters that are impossible not to like, despite their best attempts to alienate you. I particularly enjoyed the lead character Trudy, the curmudgeonly, archetypal old woman who did have a heart of gold but was just afraid to show it, or had forgotten how. Her neighbor Adam was also beautifully written, treading that fine line of black people attempting to live in a white man’s world, even in the twenty-first century. What I particularly enjoyed was the intentional and perhaps even unintentional humor that was injected into the storyline. Some of the dialogue and situations the group was facing caused me to chuckle inwardly, despite the dangerous circumstances. The story handles a divisive and timely topic, illegal immigration, and how it has split American society straight down the middle, with sensitivity and compassion, and Paul should be congratulated for this. This is a fun, enjoyable, and rewarding read that I can highly recommend.