Anne Gisleson had lost her twin sisters, been forced to flee her home during Hurricane Katrina, and witnessed cancer take her beloved father. Before she met her husband, Brad, he had suffered his own trauma, losing his partner -- the mother of his son -- to cancer in her early thirties. 'How do we keep moving forward, ' Anne asks, 'amid all this loss and threat?' The answer: 'We do it together.' Anne and Brad, in the midst of forging their happiness, found that their friends had been suffering their own losses and crises as well: loved ones gone, rocky marriages, tricky child-rearing, jobs lost or gained, financial insecurities or unexpected windfalls. Together these resilient New Orleanians formed what they called the Existential Crisis Reading Group, which they jokingly dubbed 'the Futilitarians.' From Epicurus to Tolstoy, from Cheever to Amis to Lispector, each month they read and talked about identity, parenting, love, mortality and life in post-Katrina New Orleans. In the year after her father's death, these living-room gatherings provided a sustenance Anne craved, fortifying her and helping her blaze a trail out of her well-worn grief. More than that, this fellowship allowed her finally to commune with her sisters on the page, and to tell the story of her family that had remained long untold.