Protagonist Jacqueline is a Haitian ex-pat living in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. After the earthquake hits, her heart is back in Port-au-Prince with her parents, whom she can't raise by telephone. She hasn't been back to Haiti since her parents sent her to boarding school when she was a child. Her wealthy parents wanted to see the world. They were surprised when Jacqueline didn't want to go back once she graduated from high school and then college. Jacqueline's mother isn't the most pleasant or other-centered person you've ever met, and her dad--who even knows? He's not especially assertive.
Anyway, Jacqueline inevitably makes her pilgrimage home, bringing her daughter, but not her reluctant husband, Kevin. Kevin is cool to his in-laws because of their horrible treatment of Jacqueline and later himself. Luckily, and I'm guessing symbolically, Jacqueline finds a Kreyol speaking friend: a white lady named Leyla who agrees to accompany Jacqueline "home."