Home Compassion, forgiveness, love: An orphan’s journey to find her true calling

Compassion, forgiveness, love: An orphan’s journey to find her true calling

Rebecca Barnabi

In her new novel, “Goodlife, Mississippi,” Eileen Saint Lauren brings to life the story of a girl who becomes an orphan as a result of her own mistake.

Mary “Myra” Boone is obsessed with Ray Charles Robinson, and by age 12 has already experienced a lifetime of guilt, loss and segregation. With the knowledge that she may or may not be biracial, Boone begins a journey to find her true calling in life.

Saint Lauren’s aim with the novel is to provoke readers “to contemplate an understanding and tolerance of people whose life experiences and perceptions appear outside the norm though are very real,” she said in a press release. “Goodlife, Mississippi’s timeless voices of every color and social class both together reflect the message of compassion, forgiveness and love.”

The time is the 1950s and 1960s and the place is Mississippi. Saint Lauren includes historical truths with magical realism throughout a story of the ordinary that has elements of the extraordinary and the supernatural.

Boone becomes a young woman of compassion with scars on the inside and outside, and with a self-forged faith that goodness does exist in the universe and that she has value in the world.

“Eileen Saint Lauren has created a memorable character who will linger with you long after the final page. Goodlife, Mississippi is an inspirational book of faith set among the rhythms and customs of a not-so-distant Mississippi,” said Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Bright Forever, Lee Martin, in the press release.

Born in Hattiesburg and raised in Petal, Mississippi, Lauren is an award-winning journalist and news and feature writer. She earned an associate’s degree in journalism from Jones College in Mississippi, then a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her early career included being commentator of the Nebraska Public Radio and at Smith College Museum of Art. She lives in Chapel Hill, N.C. and Madison, Mississippi.

“Goodlife, Mississippi” includes a Study Guide.



Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.