Sunday, March 05, 2017
The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young
Charlie Cates is thirty-seven, a journalist, divorced. At fourteen, she was taken in by her grandmother after her parents' deaths. But those deaths did not tear Charlie apart. It was the sudden death of her son, Keegan, not yet three, that left her with sleepless nights. And, those nights bring back a "gift" she had as a child. Now, though, Charlie is even more aware that in her dreams there's a young boy named Jo-Jo, somewhere in a swamp, begging her for help. And, when a former boss asks her to take on an assignment, writing about the disappearance of a young boy years earlier, Charlie knows it's her opportunity to write a book, help that young boy, and maybe help herself.
The Deveau kidnapping was THE crime of the '80s. Gabriel Deveau was only two when he disappeared from his locked bedroom on the Evangeline plantation. Now, Gabriel's mother is dying, and his two older sisters asked that someone writes the story. As Charlotte tries to find her way, interviewing family members, doing research, she finds more than friendship with the handsome Texan landscaper working on the gardens. But, it's her dreams that still demand answers, including, now, the dream of a dying young girl. For some reason, all of those dreams are centered right where she is now, in Louisiana.
The Gates of Evangeline is an intense story, one that builds to an unexpected climax. It's atmospheric, and menacing. But, it's Charlie and her character that drive this story. She's complex, certainly flawed, and haunted, by her own loss, and by her dreams of children. While the few people who know about them see her dreams as a gift from God, Charlie disagrees. "I'm not an instrument of God, just some woman plagued with bad dreams." She's a woman who changes in the course of the story, from a judgmental eastern sophisticate to someone who truly cares about others, their emotions and feelings, and tries to understand them. After finding a family whose story is based on lies, Charlie finally has to decide how she's going to build her future.
Hester Young's debut novel, The Gates of Evangeline, is polished and dramatic, a fascinating story of a troubled family, and Charlotte Cates, a troubled woman sent to investigate.
Hester Young's website is www.hesteryoung.com
The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young. G. P. Putnam's Sons. 2015. ISBN 9780425283172 (paperback), 425p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of the book.