Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Review: Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: August 2010
ISBN: 9780316043076
Source: Library

Ninth Ward

Lanesha has never had much in the world.  What she does have is Mama Ya-Ya, who has taken care of her since she was a baby.  Mama Ya-Ya has a gift for being able to see the future, so when she catches a glimpse of Hurricane Katrina coming for their Ninth Ward home in New Orleans, she sees devastation.  Lanesha must draw upon the strength within herself in order to save both of them from the destruction.

Things I Liked:
This was such a sweet story with great characters.  I'm surprised it didn't have more of a Newbery following, since it seems very much like one adults would love and cherish and choose for awards.  It is beautifully written with some powerful and heart-breaking things that happen to Lanesha.  In fact, it was also a bit terrifying to actually feel what it must have been like during the hurricane and flooding after.  I loved Lanesha for her strength and the way she saw things, not to mention the supportive adults in her life, her teacher and of course Mama Ya-Ya.  A well-written tear-jerker that portrays what it might have been like during Hurricane Katrina.  Some favorite parts:

I need everything Mama Ya-Ya teaches me.  And I need everything that school teaches me, too.  I need all the signs.  Dreams.  Words.  Word problems. Math.  Like air, they make my mind breathe. p 31
I start home but I don't run.  I walk.  Everything is topsy-turvy like in Alice in Wonderland.  Except it's a white cloud's fault, not a rabbit hole's.  A white cloud spinning across the TV has turned my neighborhood upside down, inside out. p 86
Things I Didn't Like: 
As I mentioned, I think this is one that adults will love, but kids are not going to be as eager to pick it up or as thrilled to read it.  The fantasy elements are pretty light, almost an afterthought.  But, it is a sweet story that some fans of more realistic fiction will enjoy.

Kinda like One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Kept reminding me of (a much younger) Ruined by Paula Morris (but really only for the ghosts and the New Orleans setting)

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
some scary parts during the storm and flood

Overall rating: *****

Would you have loved a book like this as a child?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

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