Brothers Forever: An Orphan Story
Winner of the Creative Arts Council's 2008 Book of the Year Award Craig Mayeux's novel is a searing, searching portrait of mirth and misery, crammed with tender innocence, optimistic bonding and crashing sorrow-all weighed down by blind cultural precepts.
Two boys, who share a crib in a New York institution, are suddenly immersed as "orphan train" riders into Louisiana's Cajun/Creole folkways. One is adopted by a childless, doting couple; the other is indentured to hard-luck, hardscrabble farmers.
The former is spoiled beyond gratification; the other abused emotionally and physically with heart-aching, backbreaking servitude.
Throughout the continuing counterpoint of bare bones versus largesse, the boys stay true to their anthem of being Brothers Forever.
The author knows of what he writes. His grandfather, George Leary, was an indentured "orphan train" boy, who traveled from New York to Cottonport, Louisiana in the early twentieth century.