A vivid chronicle of an immigrant family challenged by the contradictions of the American Dream. In 1939, Emerson Gardner, a successful Jamaican pharmacist and aspiring doctor, crosses class and social lines and marries Madeline Jans, a free-spirited pediatric nurse risen from poverty. In 1946, the childless couple journey to the United States, landing in New Orleans before pursuing their dreams to New York where they become U.S. citizens. When the force of racial prejudice dashes their hopes of Emerson becoming a doctor, they venture to Los Angeles, content to stay and build a new life after Madeline finally conceives the son she has long wished for.
Interwoven with their story is the family's 1963 drive across the southern tier of the United States, from Los Angeles to Miami, after Emerson decides they are going to return to Jamaica now that the island has become independent. The three day trip is seen through the eyes of their 9-year-old son who is bewildered by the rising tensions provoked by the civil rights movement and the conflicts between his parents as their once happy marriage dissolves in bitterness.
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