This is a fine, well-written book worthy of all acceptation.
A hard-working lower-middle-class family loses everything when Hurricane Katrina hits their part of Louisiana. They evacuate to Atlanta and try to regroup and re-start their lives. Eventually they (mostly) make their way home. Friends are scattered. Family ties are tested. A whole lot of adjustment and introspection goes on, all to eventual good ends, though not necessarily in material form.
The metaphorical heart of the book is Longfellow’s long poem Evangeline about the Acadian diaspora from Nova Scotia to Louisiana. The writer does a beautiful, focussed job of gently hanging her modern tale on this. In fact, the title of the book comes from the poem.
There is romance but no explicit sex. There is love of many good kinds. There is a gay character who escapes his small home community and finds a happier community for himself in a big city. The expletive “hell” appears once. A teenage girl says “Oh, Jesus” and her grandmother immediately chides her for taking the Lord’s name in vain. There is some drinking and pot-smoking but not to excess, with the teenagers adopting a more take-it-or-leave-it attitude.
Although the author is not a native of Louisiana, she faithfully reproduces the culture in this story. The tone of her lovely last pages made me think of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and her theme of “things must be broken apart before a new start can be made” resonates long after the book is finished.