The best books are those that you can wrap yourself up in like grandmother’s quilt. Carefully pieced together from scraps of thought, people known and lives lived with a generous dose of laughter and tears. Like precious pieces from a faded wedding dress to scraps of fabric from a work-worn shirt. the author carefully stitches everything together into a patchwork of love for the written word.

"Louette’s Wake" by Sue Riddle Cronkite is one of those “best books.”

The rich language of the wiregrass country of southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle gives voice to Louette’s tale of love and loss, joy and tragedy. And, always hope. Not a fragile Southern belle, Louette is a strong woman who decides to plan her own wake. Why not? What’s the use of everyone coming to see you after you’re dead? Where’s the fun in that?

"Louette’s Wake" is filled with characters that you know. Eccentric, humorous, some sad and others happy. Nevertheless, all are very real. These people are your next-door neighbors. Perhaps they live down the street or are talked about after Wednesday evening prayer service. You might have to admit to one or two of them being nuts in your family tree. While you might think one or another is lower than an egg-suckin’ dog, you can always be forgiven your comments as long as you close with bless their little heart.

From the opening pages when grandson Bucky is saved from the wrath of a sow protecting her piglets to a 20-year-old mystery solved on the day of the party, author Sue Riddle Cronkite takes us on a rollicking journey into Louette’s world. Pages can’t be turned fast enough as her story unfolds. A tragedy on the eve of the wake - you’ll feel the heat creeping up your backside. Mason jars filled with Mama’s treasure, you’ll join our cast of characters with your shovel in hand in case it’s buried in the backyard.

With the style and storytelling skill of Fannie Flagg in “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café,” or Bailey White in “Mama Makes Up Her Mind.” you will enjoy your trip into the pages of “Louette’s Wake” and be a little bit sad when the journey ends.

So, make yourself a cup of coffee and cut a piece of Louette’s six-layer cake with hot fudge frosting, grab a quilt and curl up with your copy of "Louette’s Wake" by Sue Riddle Cronkite. Pure joy!

Apalachicola resident Jerry L. Hurley is author of “Wildcrafting and Other Stories I Share Only With My Friends.”