Between Two Skies by Joanne O'Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Between Two Skies, takes place as Hurricane Katrina hits Louisiana, tearing families apart. The currents of loss and abandonment and heartbreak and the struggle that come with the destruction make this book impossible to put down.
Evangeline Riley, named after the heroine in the Longfellow poem, is about to turn sweet sixteen, and she loves Bayou Perdu, LA. The water is a part of her. Always eager to help her father, a shrimper, she longs for a life here, forever, her fairy-tale land -- a tiny secret place, where Louisiana takes its last breath before plunging into the Gulf of Mexico. Barges from all over the world glide up the Mississippi on their way to New Orleans.
The birds, the fish, the skies and sea, the tiny village of trailers, shrimpers, oystermen, and orange growers are lush and visceral, the setting its own character. The reader won’t want to leave, Bayou Perdu either. The cultural tapestry of the residents is rich and enlivening, warm and inviting. Evangeline’s mother runs a popular local diner. Her drama queen sister looks forward to attending LSU in the fall. And Mamere, her namesake, and confidant, lives with them in Bayou Perdu, dispensing nuggets of wisdom.
But a hurricane is coming. Many think there’s nothing to fear, want to wait it out. With the increasing threat, Evangeline separates from all she’s ever known, and her best friends, Kendra and Danielle, who may not have evacuated with her mother in time. And Tru, the mysterious boy in the pork pie hat, she saved from the skinny water.
After much deliberation, the family takes up residence with Evangeline’s aunt in Georgia and the girls enroll in school. Where they become “refugees”. It’s very different from what Evangeline’s family is used to, and no one is happy. But it’ll be some time before they’re allowed back in Louisiana.
A beautiful story of insurmountable loss and abandonment among the chaos as we remember this historical tragedy. The characters dreams and struggles come to life, and the story is unforgettable. There are surprises and wonder in this deftly woven tale. Expect tears.
Release date: Apr 25, 2017, Candlewick Press
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