Tomorrow, as you are probably already aware, is Mardi Gras. If you aren’t in New Orleans preparing for the festivities—and let’s face it, if you’re reading this at the moment, you’re probably not—here are a few books to help you get there vicariously.
Ruined and Unbroken, by Paula Morris
Kirkus actually liked Unbroken quite a bit more than I did—while I had some difficulty with the mechanics of the world, the ridiculous behavior of the main characters BLEW MY MIND—both of these books have loads of descriptions of New Orleans, as well as information about the parade culture and all sorts of other fun stuff, and Morris weaves most of it in pretty organically. (And despite my issues with the main characters, I adored the secondary characters, who were both hilarious and adorable. I’m still crossing my fingers for a spin-off series.)
Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepetys
Even though this book is about a girl who just wants to get out, out, OUT of New Orleans, reading it—more than any other book I’ve ever read about any other city, including Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’s depiction of Savannah—made me want to visit. It’s a super story, in terms of character and plotting, voice, atmosphere and setting; it’s just as strong as though not quite as brutally grim as her first book; and it’s a TOTAL MUST-READ for fans of What I Saw and How I Lied.
Orleans, by Sherri L. Smith
Well. As this is a particularly brutal postapocalyptic vision of the city and its environs, it’s maybe not the best pick for making your way to Mardi Gras through literature…but it’s a super book. There’s high-stakes adventure and a really fascinating and well-thought-out culture, it’s a story about friendship, about desperation, about persistence and will, and about dreaming to make the world a better place even while reconciling yourself to the idea that even though you, yourself might not see that future come to be, those who come after you might. Fen’s dialect is fantastic, her relationship with idealistic-but-totally-out-of-his-depth Daniel is complicated and believable, and there is very definitely no happily-ever-after, but it’s SO well done. Also! Even though the city is pretty much decimated, there are some GREAT descriptions of the wreckage.
This Wicked Game, by Michelle Zink
I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve been eyeing it. Because even though I wasn’t a huge fan of Zink’s Prophecy of the Sisters—which A) made me sad, as I really WANTED to like it more and B) happens to be ANOTHER title that Kirkus liked more than I did!—I’m a sucker for stories that deal with Marie Leveau. And secret societies. Also, there’s a character named Crazy Eddie. CRAZY EDDIE. As I haven’t read it yet, I don’t know what he’s supposed to look like or how old he is, but I’ve already cast Randy Quaid in my mind’s eye. So even if Kirkus’ promise of the “detailed descriptions of the New Orleans setting, particularly the Garden District” doesn’t work for me, I’ll have that to entertain me.
Do you have any favorite New Orleans YA that didn’t make my list? I was so surprised that I couldn’t think of more!
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or running the show at her local library, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while rewatching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.