Ninth Ward

Jewell Parker Rhodes, Little, Brown, $15.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-316-04307-6
With a mix of magical and gritty realism, Rhodes’s (Voodoo Dreams) first novel for young readers imagines Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding through the eyes of resourceful 12-year-old Lanesha. Lanesha lives with Mama Ya-Ya, an 82-year-old seer and midwife who delivered Lanesha and has cared for her since her teenage mother died in childbirth. Living in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Lanesha is viewed as an unusual child (she was born with a caul and is able to see ghosts) and is ostracized at school. Lanesha finds strength in Mama Ya-Ya’s constant love and axioms of affection and reassurance (“When the time’s right... the universe shines down love”). The story becomes gripping as the waters rise and Lanesha, with help from a young neighbor and her mother’s ghostly presence, finds a way to keep body and soul together. The spare but vivid prose, lilting dialogue, and skilled storytelling brings this tragedy to life; the powerful sense of community Rhodes evokes in the Ninth Ward prior to the storm makes the devastation and the hardships Lanesha endures all the more powerful. Ages 10–up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
Open Ebook - 80 pages - 978-0-316-16733-8
Prebound-Glued - 217 pages - 978-0-606-26158-6
Paperback - 217 pages - 978-0-316-04308-3
Prebound-Glued - 217 pages - 978-1-61383-370-4
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