An appropriately serious and occasionally gruesome tale of surviving Hurricane Katina, buoyed by large doses of hope and humor.
Twelve-year-old Zane Dupree, a New Hampshire native, is on his first visit to his newly discovered Grammy in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina forces them to evacuate. On the way out of the city, Zane’s dog jumps out of the van, and Zane follows, soon finding himself back at his grandmother’s house alone with the storm quickly closing in. When the winds die down, rising floodwaters force Zane into the sweltering attic, from which he is rescued by local musician Tru and his spunky charge, Malvina. The three embark on an epic adventure—skirting dead bodies and poisonous snakes in the floodwaters, making it to the Superdome only to realize there is no help to be had there, escaping a drug dealer intent on capturing Malvina and attempting to cross the guarded bridge to Algiers. Careful attention to detail in representations of the storm, the city and local dialect give this tale a realistic feel. Zane’s perspective as an outsider allows Philbrick to weave in social commentary on race, class, greed and morality, offering rich fodder for reflection and discussion.
This compelling story of Katrina is like the floodwaters it describes: quickly moving, sometimes treacherous and sometimes forgiving, with a lot going on beneath the surface. (Historical fiction. 10-14)