Between Two Skies by Joanne O’Sullivan, Candlewick (April 25, 2017). ISBN: 9780763690342. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.
Evangeline Riley is mostly satisfied with her life in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. Granted, her older sister is irritating and tends to shirk her way out of chores, but Ev, as she’s sometimes called, can take her small boat into the bayous and get lost while fishing among the birds to feel a sense of place and peace. She also has her father and often helps out on their shrimp boat. Then, there’s her beloved grandmother or Mamere, who is loving, wise and laid back.
Despite it not really being her thing, she’s about to become Fleet Queen as well as celebrating her sixteenth birthday. Even better, she escapes when the festivities get to be a bit too much and meets Tru, a Vietnamese boy visiting cousins. He and his borrowed boat are stuck. While helping him free it, she gets to know a lot about him, including an awareness that she’s attracted.
Then Hurricane Katrina threatens, then hits Louisiana. Ev’s family takes refuge in Atlanta to ride things out, expecting to return home soon. When they realize their town has been almost completely destroyed, it’s the first of many changes to their lives.
She must adjust to a new school, her parents distance from each other, her sister’s meltdown, loss of her best friends, loss of Tru and most importantly, her whole way of life. Recovering isn’t quick or easy, but this book does a stellar job of following Ev and everyone else as they try their best to figure out what’s realistic and what’s not as they rebuild their lives.
It’s a perfect book for any and all libraries to own because of the way it shows how many ways a disaster can affect families and communities.