Since Eggers wrote the definitive (for now) non-fiction piece on Hurricane Katrina (Zeitoun), I was curious to read what Ward, who experienced Katrina, could do with the fictional side. She succeeded remarkably well. First, to her credit, the storm does not take center stage until the end. The father knows it’s coming; we all know it’s coming. The tension builds.

Ward is a great writer. There are at least two passages that took my breath away – one about Esch’s efforts to deal with Manny and the other about waiting in an attic during the storm. But the real prize is a section that rivals Bigger’s efforts to evade Mrs. Dalton after he’s killed Mary. Ward manages to juxtapose Skeetah dealing with the odd behavior of his pit bull, China, with the father’s efforts to knock down to an unused chicken coop to get more wood to protect the house in a way that had me holding breath.

This is an outstanding book by an outstanding author. Read it!

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