Between Two Skies
Between Two Skies
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Annotation: Enjoying a quiet life in a tiny Louisiana fishing town, 16-year-old Evangeline is set adrift by Hurricane Katrina and must work through difficult political and cultural challenges to regain her sense of belonging.
Genre: Love stories
Catalog Number: #138242
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 267 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-7636-9034-1
ISBN 13: 978-0-7636-9034-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017935665
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
After Hurricane Katrina destroys her beloved Louisiana bayou hometown, Evangeline Riley and her family move temporarily to Atlanta. The turmoil of relocation, entering a new school, facing a loss of income, and adapting to an almost foreign culture wears on everyone in her family. The sense of place is vividly evoked, and Evangeline's circumstances authentically reflect the experiences of Katrina refugees.
Publishers Weekly
O-Sullivan-s first novel, an elegantly written coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina, opens in the village of Bayou Perdu on the Gulf of Mexico on the eve of Evangeline Riley-s 16th birthday. The third Evangeline in her family, she harbors a deep love for her rundown village and its surrounding waters. When Katrina approaches, Evangeline and her parents, older sister, and Cajun grandmother evacuate, ending up in Atlanta, where her Aunt Cel sets them up with an apartment and enrolls the sisters in school. The setting is a far cry from Bayou Perdu, where Evangeline-s mother ran a diner and her father was a shrimper; inevitable family tensions arise, but Evangeline finds friendship, romance, and a nurturing school counselor. While the story is somewhat predictable, O-Sullivan creates suspense on several fronts and gives Evangeline a lyrical and endearing voice; as first love blossoms, -A shiver runs through me, the way an egret-s feathers ripple slightly in the wind as it-s about to take flight.- Ages 12-up. Agent: Claire Anderson-Wheeler, Regal Hoffmann & Associates. (Apr.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Heartache and deracination wrapped in the lyrical sigh of an epic poem unfold into one girl's story of struggle, devastation, and survival. O'Sullivan's soulful debut follows the Beauchamp clan of Bayou Perdu from the days before Hurricane Katrina scattered the shores of Louisiana's Gulf Coast to the aftermath that turned natives into refugees and temporary shelters into homes. Evangeline, a "white, mostly" Cajun girl, loves the tiny speck of paradise she and her family inhabit 66 miles from New Orleans. What separates Evangeline's story from the myriad others that have come and gone in the wake of one of the nation's worst natural disasters is O'Sullivan's deft lyricism. One minute, Evangeline is just a girl managing her crush on Vietnamese-American shrimper and musician Tru, a girl who loves where she lives and doesn't yearn for much else. Then the swirling white blur on the weather forecast stirs up sediment and trees and lives and hopes and tomorrows. Evangeline and her family go from lifetime residents of a close-knit fishing community to refugees in landlocked Atlanta. Displaced, confused, and resentful, the Beauchamps are adrift. O'Sullivan pairs the ache of her Evangeline with the anguish felt by the Acadian protagonists of the famous Longfellow poem. O'Sullivan's light touch and restraint will allow readers to follow Evangeline as she stands howling into the wind that howled into her. (Historical fiction. 12-16)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Sixteen-year-old Evangeline Riley has a rich and contented life. Tiny Bayou Perdu, a shrimping and fishing town in Louisiana, offers all she needs: best friends, family, salt air, gumbo, and pure peace when she's on the water. During a local festival, she meets Tru, a Vietnamese boy she can't get out of her mind; but shortly thereafter, Hurricane Katrina forces evacuation. Chaos and destruction push them away, as the Rileys seek refuge with an aunt in Atlanta. There Evangeline feels lost and restless, craving home and the familiar, while her family struggles to rebuild their lives. When she and Tru discover they attend the same high school with other Katrina "refugees," they forge an unbreakable bond. However, life remains unstable for them both, and when Evangeline's family is given a FEMA trailer back home, not everyone in the Riley family wants to return. O'Sullivan's debut novel excels in its expressive language and the use of place: a colorful home, a city that contrasts with the one Evangeline lost, and the aftermath of the storm that destroyed almost everything she holds dear. Told in a strong, purposeful voice filled with controlled emotion and hope, the impact of Katrina on families is as compelling as Evangeline's drive to regain her sense of self and belonging.
Voice of Youth Advocates
Hurricane Katrina (2005), one of the worst natural disasters in the United States, is prominently featured in O’Sullivan’s debut novel. Evangeline, a high school student, is chosen to represent her hometown of Bayou Perdu (fittingly named since the French translation means Lost Bayou) in its annual naming of the various queens, of which she happens to be the Fleet Queen. Mandy, Evangeline’s sister, is aghast at Evangeline’s appearance in rubber boots and shorts; Mandy always sees to it that her appearance is at its best. The community has its celebration, and word gets around that a hurricane is set to come ashore “somewhere” in the Louisiana area, which prompts some to evacuate while others decide to stay. Evangeline and her family, including her elderly grandmother, Mamere, flee to Georgia where they end up staying with family. Hearing the point of view of a teen “refugee” is heartbreaking, especially when she is facing the possibility of losing friends and family. This story is one of many dealing with the hurricane and its devastation, but this author’s emotional style of writing makes her novel stand out. O’Sullivan does a wonderful job of putting the reader alongside Evangeline and her family. From feeling squashed in the backseat of a car to smelling the fishy odor of sandwiches to the heartbreaking loss of first love, Between Two Skies is a welcome addition to library collections serving young adults.—Beth H. Green.
Word Count: 65,883
Reading Level: 4.4
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.4 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 188790 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.7 / points:17.0 / quiz:Q70748

Hurricane Katrina sets a teenage girl adrift. But a new life — and the promise of love — emerges in this rich, highly readable debut.

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.

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