Ninth Ward (Rhodes)

Enough time has passed, it seems, for people to start writing about Hurricane Katrina. Dyson’s Come Hell or High Water and Eggers’ Zeitoun are both excellent (and very different) non-fiction books written for adults. Rhodes has tried something different here; she’s written a story for young adults (I’m thinking 5th or 6th grade). Lanesha has been adopted by Mama Ya-Ya, her mother’s midwife (her mother died giving birth). She has ‘ordinary’ kid issues (friends, a dog, an annoying neighbor, getting teased, etc.). Oh, and she and Mama Ya-Ya can see ghosts, including Lanesha’s mother. Then it comes time for the Ninth Ward to get ready for the storm. The once annoying TaShon become her helper (along with the dog they share, Spot, and Lanesha’s ghostly mother provides timely assistance) and they, well (spoiler alert), survive the storm. Maybe it’s because I read those two other books, but this book seems oversimplified in a problematic way. They get out of the house, but what next? What happens next in the Ninth Ward? Both children are without any kind of adults in their lives (TaShon got separated from his parents at the Superdome). I wouldn’t want this to be a student’s only understanding of the Hurricane or even New Orleans.

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