My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Publication Date: April 25th, 2017
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Bayou Perdu, a tiny fishing town way, way down in Louisiana, is home to sixteen-year-old Evangeline Riley. She has her best friends, Kendra and Danielle; her wise, beloved Mamere; and back-to-back titles in the under-sixteen fishing rodeo. But, dearest to her heart, she has the peace that only comes when she takes her skiff out to where there is nothing but sky and air and water and wings. It’s a small life, but it is Evangeline’s. And then the storm comes, and everything changes. Amid the chaos and pain and destruction comes Tru — a fellow refugee, a budding bluesman, a balm for Evangeline’s aching heart. Told in a strong, steady voice, with a keen sense of place and a vivid cast of characters, here is a novel that asks compelling questions about class and politics, exile and belonging, and the pain of being cast out of your home. But above all, this remarkable debut tells a gently woven love story, difficult to put down, impossible to forget.
I find so great that this book follows a girl whose family—like many others—was deeply affected by the Hurricane Katrina, because I’ve never read a book about this subject before and I still remember how powerful it was and what awful consequences it brought.
So I was definitely eager to start this book. Bayou Perdu is such an interesting fishing town full of diversity and culture. I wish I’d lived in such a town, because the author made it look absolutely magical. But because Bayou Perdu is so close to the sea, it was ravaged by the hurricane.
Evangeline and her family have to flee their home and everything they’ve ever known to save themselves. They’ve become refugees. Most people have trouble adapting to their new environment and miss Bayou Perdu. But some people find the light in the darkness: Evangeline’s mother finds a good job and Evangeline herself is reunited with a boy she met in Bayou Perdu.
I didn’t like that this was mainly a love story. Katrina is not the reason why there is a story to tell. Evangeline connected with Tru from the start, so even if the hurricane hadn’t shown itself, there still would have been a love story to tell. I won’t say it’s a bad one, because it felt genuine enough, but I much preferred when the author focused on issues related to Katrina.
I wonder what this book would have turned out to be if it were written by someone who was directly affected by Katrina. It would have been more profound and heartfelt. Joanne O’Sullivan touches on important topics, like the status of refugees, accommodations, the government’s role, but never enough to teach me something new. However, she did help me see things in a new perspective.
Overall, I’m disappointed. It could have been so much more. The romance ruins everything. The drama is unnecessary. The writing is extremely accessible, but not at all lyrical—just adequate.
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