Susan Oliver says, "It takes very little for a mother and daughter to turn on each other. So much lies below the surface—hurts held for decades in clinched fists, extravagant expectations never met, and ties that bind." Once Upon a Gulf Coast Summer is about the complex relationship between Josephine Green and her grown daughter, Katy. Issues bear down from Josephine’s troubled and rigid childhood and the enigmatic mother who was preoccupied with her own secret disappointments. Jo and Katy continue to war with each other, especially after Jo is diagnosed with lung cancer. Jo struggles to communicate her faith with her daughter and receives help from her housekeeper, Adele, who is a devout lady of faith. Jo and Katy work to find their redemption, both together and individually, even as flood waters threaten their home one Gulf Coast summer.