Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ninth Ward

Ninth WardNinth Ward Jewell Parker Rhodes

Lanesha can see spirits. Living with Mama YaYa, who reads signs and sees things, she's teased at school for her witchy ways. But Lanesha sees things-- not just the dead, but other people who try to be invisible.

But something's coming and Mama YaYa can't read the signs-- they keep telling her different things. A storm's coming. Katrina.

Just as Lanesha meets a new teacher who inspires her to build bridges. Just as a popular girl doesn't mind that Lanesha's a little weird and befriends her. Just as... the neighborhood boards up and clears out. Lanesha does what she can to prepare, but as adult readers know, it's not the storm itself that causes the most destruction and the worst is something that she couldn't prepare for.

I have one major complaint about this book. In the book, the Katrina hits on Sunday night. Lanesha and Mama YaYa spend a tense night in the dark listening to the wind and the storm. Lanesha wakes up on Monday morning to a new day and cleans up a bit and then the water starts rising. It's really well done and very dramatic, but... Katrina made landfall at 6am on Monday morning and by 9am the flood waters were already 6-8 feet in the Ninth Ward.* It draws out the drama to mess with the timeline but surely it could have been done without that?

Especially because I loved this book. I loved Lanesha and the people in her neighborhood. I loved how she dealt with the bullies and the ghosts. I loved her strength in the storm and the aftermath. I loved her resourcefulness and power. I loved the touch of magical realism. I loved the terror and tension of the storm and flood.

It's beautiful and I'm glad it won the Coretta Scott King honor award. It deserves recognition.

But... the timeline nags at me. I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else. Am I totally offbase on this?

*I'm getting my timeline facts from this pdf timeline put out by Brookings. I looked it up because I remember that the hurricane hit on Monday morning but wanted to double check.

Book Provided by... my local library

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1 comment:

Moink said...

I agree that the author should have used the correct timeline or else included an afterward explaining why she changed it. This is an actual event, and the fact that the book is fiction doesn't excuse playing fast-and-loose with history unless the author has a really good reason. And explains it.