Monday, November 1, 2010

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

"They say I was born with a caul, a skin netting covering my face like a glove."

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Summary: In New Orleans' Ninth Ward, twelve-year-old Lanesha, who can see spirits, and her adopted grandmother have no choice but to stay and weather the storm as Hurricane Katrina bears down upon them.

Publisher: Little Brown; 217 pages


Kris said...

It's been a while since I've read a book that's moved me like this one did -- powerful and touching story, beautiful writing, I loved it.

Deb said...

Rhodes is a good storyteller, creating some strong characters and at times, some gripping action, with an overall sense of the mystical that fits in well with the New Orleans culture. And I applaud the fact that this title does make accessible and humanizes a disaster so many just know by a name - "Katrina." However, ultimately, I felt this book to be a romanticized portrayal of the events that impacted the Ninth Ward and the entire Gulf Coast. As a reader, I felt no strong sense of the very real terror and desperation children like Lanesha experienced during scenes like the water rising in the attic, or waiting on the roof for rescue; almost as if Rhodes was holding something back because it was for a juvenile reader? Or maybe too much magical and not enough realism? If these characters' voices were true, I would have felt like I did when I was in the Ninth Ward following Katrina - like I had been punched in the gut. This was an "i'm glad i read it" starting point of a story, but not a true picture of Katrina.

Anonymous said...

I just finished this book and I agree with Deb in that I did not get a strong sense of terror or desparation. After the characters were on the roof, they were up there for a full day without any food yet there was no hunger pains.

This may be a romanticized account of the tragedy, but that may be what some kids that viewed it on TV need to get past their fear. A cousin of mine that lives in the midwest refused to sleep on the main floor of her house or at a friend's house or hotel for months, maybe years after Katrina. She had to sleep on the second story because of the fear she acquired after Katrina. Maybe a book like this would have helped some kids, maybe not my cousin, but others, learn how to deal with a crippling natural disaster.

One thing at the beginning that just rubbed me the wrong was was the reference to William Jefferson Clinton being Mama YaYa's favorite president. The reference doesn't say why he was her favorite president. Am I supposed to know why? If I don't know why, is it necessary to bring something political into a novel?