It's 1974 and Susie Burton and Rodney Thibault—a white girl and black boy—leave the prejudice of South Louisiana behind and run off to New York to be married. They believe they have the protection of a local doctor to keep the Klan and Susie's dad from disturbing their plans, but Susie finds herself alone in New York City.
Four-year-old, Lilly comes into Susie's life to assuage her pain and loneliness and the relationship between the older and younger girls shapes what happens over the next ten years.
Susie continues to write the stories Catfish told her about plantation life and the changes that took place after the abolishment of slavery. The Burton's help, Tootsie, who is Catfish's daughter, tells Susie new stories about Catfish and their family and Susie tells Lilly her story.
Lilly is a story of love and redemption, of sacrifice and reward, of pain and joy. The legacy of Catfish lives on through Susie and Lilly as they navigate the ever-changing world of the 1970s and 1980s where Negroes become African Americans, coloreds become blacks, the Vietnam War creates havoc, the Nixon Whitehouse falls apart, and integration and equal rights make historical impacts on the Deep South.
How all of these changes affect Susie, Rodney, Lilly, and all the people of Jean Ville, Louisiana will surprise and amaze readers.