In 1755, newly married Gabriel and Evangeline are separated when British soldiers forcibly remove the Acadians from Canada. Evangeline is told that Gabriel is dead, but he is not. After suffering imprisonment, sickness, and a near-drowning, Gabriel finds Evangeline on the eve of her wedding to another man. Fast forward to the present day, where high school students Gabe and Eva rekindle a childhood friendship that quickly turns to romance. Eva is willing to follow Gabe anywhere, even deep into the Maine woods where they spend the night together. But when Gabe disappears following a family tragedy, Eva despairs of ever seeing him again.
This is a wistful and melancholy time-slip novel based loosely on Longfellow’s narrative poem Evangeline. Shaw’s vivid descriptions of the landscape evoke Longfellow, while Eva’s teenaged voice keeps the story grounded (sort of) in reality. While the two story lines gripped me at first, I began to lose interest when I realized that the author was not going to develop the characters any further. Gabriel’s single-minded search for Evangeline made him seem more like an automaton than a man in love. Likewise, Eva’s quick and thoughtless giving of herself to the unstable and uncommunicative Gabe made me cringe for every teenage girl who would read her story and think it romantic for a boy to disappear the morning after.