Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ninth Ward” as Want to Read:
Ninth Ward
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Ninth Ward

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  3,262 ratings  ·  639 reviews
Twelve-year-old Lanesha lives in a tight-knit community in New Orleans' Ninth Ward. She doesn't have a fancy house like her uptown family or lots of friends like the other kids on her street. But what she does have is Mama Ya-Ya, her fiercely loving caretaker, wise in the ways of the world and able to predict the future. So when Mama Ya-Ya's visions show a powerful hurrica ...more
Hardcover, 217 pages
Published August 16th 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Mockingjay by Suzanne CollinsOut of My Mind by Sharon M. DraperOne Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-GarciaCountdown by Deborah WilesMockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Newbery 2011
23rd out of 147 books — 494 voters
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. DraperFinally by Wendy MassMockingbird by Kathryn ErskineCountdown by Deborah WilesBecause of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
Mock Newbery 2010/2011
10th out of 82 books — 194 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I'm sorry, I think I liked this one a lot more in theory than in execution. A charged political issue (Hurricane Katrina), the subtle magical realism/supernatural elements more common in children's lit. today (a narrator that sees ghosts), and a 12-year-old strong female narrator coming of age all sound like the set-up for a perfect book, and one I'd adore. However, somehow this never really gelled for me. The writing never followed through on the high-concept promise, the ghosts were never work ...more
Shannon Messenger
I read this book in one sitting. It kept me up till 1:30am--on a night when I was sooooooooooooo tired. But I couldn't put it down--which, I must admit, completely surprised me.

I mean, I'd expected to love the writing. I'd planned on finding beautiful prose and fabulous characters (both of which it definitely delivers).'s about Hurricane Katrina. I kinda know how that story goes, yanno? The hurricane hitting. The levies failing. The tragedy and destruction. I watched it all unfold on th
I really hated this book. I dislike a lot of the children's "literature" I'm professionally obligated to read because it's so poorly done. As is Ninth Ward. But what I really, really hated in this instance was the dishonesty. Rhodes is from Pittsburgh and teaches creative writing (!!! She's qualified to teach writing like I'm qualified to teach neurosurgery) at Arizona State. Why, then, does she set this and all her adult novels (which appear to be 'naughty' mysteries) in New Orleans? She doesn' ...more
Bobby Simic
Story involving Lanesha, a twelve-year-old living in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans just as Hurricane Katrina is about to hit the area. Using the wisdom and lessons from her elderly caretaker, Mama Ya-Ya, Lanesha is able to battle the storm and its after-effects.

I think I'm in the minority here, but I found this well-intentioned but a little bland. I feel Lanesha, while strong in spirit and intelligence, is also a character that I've read before in other books. She's poor, lonely, and has abandon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a book that is just plain unequivocally Good, in its writing, its story, its characters, and even in the much more subjective territory of the feelings it left me with.

Lanesha has lived all her twelve years in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans secure in the love of Mama Ya-Ya, the wise old woman who was the midwife at her birth. Her seventeen-year old mother, rejected by her well off family after she became pregnant, died giving birth to her...but she hasn't quite left her daughter. Her ghos
Barb Middleton
Lanesha watched from the porch as the paper bag spun wildly across the street like tumbleweed. New Orleans was a ghost town with people fleeing from Hurricane Katrina. All except Mama Ya-Ya and Lanesha. They didn’t have a car to leave even if they wanted to.

In the book, Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhoades, Lanesha is an orphan raised by Mama Ya-Ya, an 82-year-old midwife. Their story is about love and survival in a tough part of town. The characters are likeable: Mama Ya-Ya sits back in her cha
Karen Ball
I see darkness on the horizon. Rolling, rolling in like a too-warm blanket...
I shiver. Tell myself not to be afraid. We'll survive the hurricane.
Ghosts told me so.

Lanesha is 12, and has grown up in the poor neighborhood of New Orleans' Ninth Ward. She lives with Mama YaYa, a healer and midwife who delivered Lanesha, but couldn't save her teenage mother. Lanesha's mother's "uptown family" has never wanted her, but MamaYaya has loved her as if she were her own. Lanesha has always been able to see
Natalie Varnell
Genre: Magical Realism
Summary: Lanesha is a twelve year old girl that is growing up in the 9th Ward of New Orleans during the time of Katrina. She is being raised by an elderly woman that she calls “Mama Ya-Ya.” Lanesha holds a special gift that allows her to connect to the loved ones of her past. Her special gift gives her strength to keep on being strong.
a) I found the book’s plot very interesting.
b) This book retells the horrific storm of Katrina through a twelve year old orphan’s eye. Lanesh
Dawn Edgar
I read this one because it was chosen for the Battle of the Books competition in our area (Pikes Peak Region, kind of a quiz bowl/trivia contest for fifth grade students, and I help sponsor this for our school). Palaccio's (sp?) "Wonder" was the other new book chosen this year. I am coming to know and love books written for kids this age...the messages are simple and pure, and this one did not disappoint in this manner.

I remember watching Hurricane Katrina unfold on television in 2005 and feelin
I knew I wanted to read this book ever since reading my sister's review over a year ago:

So I was happy to win a copy of my own in a giveaway. It is indeed a lovely, sad -- as any book set in the Ninth Ward in late August 2005 is bound to be -- but ultimately hopeful book. I was expecting it to be lyrical in the way that works of magical realism often are (12 year-old Lanesha and her caregiver, Mama YaYa, both see ghosts), and to an extent it is. But it als
I fell in love with the protagonist of this book - 12-year-old Lanesha, an orphan raised by Mama Ya-Ya, the elderly midwife who delivered her. Lanesha can see and communicate with ghosts, but she also loves mathematics and words and longs to be an engineer. She has to use all of her talents, and a great deal of courage and fortitude (one of her favorite words) to survive when her neighborhood is flooded after Hurricane Katrina.

This book is beautifully written and tells a wonderful story of the p
This is a great heart warming story about a child's perspective of the the Katrina disaster. The author mixes in some of the fantasy and mystery of New Orleans along with the normal aspects of being a middle school student in search of an identity. Her unique way of introducing vocabulary through the protagonist offers a chance for young readers to be introduced to new words. I loved this moving tale and would encourage both adults and children alike to read it.
for some reason i thought this book would be a combination of Voodoo Season and [book:The Big Mama Stories|1558133. i seriously enjoyed reading the first book. it was almost as amazing my first actual visit to new orleans. since this is young adult fiction told from a preteen heroine birthed in the heart of the n.o. second most notorious neighborhood (after the french quarter) i figured it would have the sassy tone of the big mama stories. in a way i was correct. in a way i was wrong.

i think thi
Linda Lipko
As a visitor to New Orleans each year to attend a publication conference with students, as a lover of history, as someone who loves to study sociology and socioeconomics, when I saw this book posted on Goodreads, I had to find a copy.

Told from the perspective of twelve year old Lanesha, the reader is pulled into the story of the ninth ward of New Orleans -- the people who are poor in financial gain, but ever so rich in the blessing of caring for each other.

This is a love story and a tale of hope
Lanesha was born with a caul covering her face. Mama Ya-Ya tells her this is the reason she sees ghosts, including the ghost of her mother who died giving her life 12 years earlier. Living in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where her better-off relatives left her to live in poverty but joy with Mama Ya-Ya, Lanesha accepts the spirits as part of her daily life but knows that this gift or curse sets her apart, as does living with the woman who served as midwife at her birth and the births of so man ...more
My colleague received an advance copy of this beautiful little book. It tells the story of Lanesha, a little girl with special gifts. Lanesha sees ghosts and has second sight. Her surrogate mother, Mama Ya-ya, birthed her and raised her after her mother died in childbirth. Mama Ya-ya teaches Lanesha to watch for the signs, to trust herself, and most importantly, about the enduring power of love. When Hurricane Katrina hits their home in the Ninth Ward, Lanesha learns she has more strength than s ...more
Nov 14, 2009 Inge rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: kids
This book is going to be special. This book is going to be, to state it bluntly, a huge deal. This book is going to renew your faith in children's literature and humanity. Many books claim to illuminate the triumph of the human spirit. The Ninth Ward does that, and so much more.
I saw Spike Lee's documentary about Hurricane Katrina, but this novel drove the message about the tragedy home for me in a more poignant way. Classmates Lanesha and TaShon are children that are forced to act like adults a
Kolane Gemeda
"Ninth Ward" is about a young girl named Lanesha who lives with a retired midwife,Mama Yaya, who helped Lanesha's mom give birth to Lanesha. The author of this historical fiction book is Jewell Parker Rhodes. The theme of this story is if your brave enough you will most likely achieve what you believe in.

This book is told in third person and the genre is historical fiction. I not only like "Ninth Ward" I love it because you have a bite of how the hurricane was and how life was before it. The plo
I loved Rhodes's assertion that she had to write a lot for adults before she took the risk of writing for youngsters. I think too often adult writers are trying to make a fast buck on young readers and they don't truly respect their audience.

Rhodes has invented a beautiful strong girl in Lanesha...born in a caul, able to see ghosts, and shunned by many because of her individuality. Raised by Mama Ya Ya, not even a blood relative, Lanesha finds a way to survive not only the Hurricane Katrina sto
This was an awsome book. It was a heartwarming story of a girl who loses everything and doesn't give up. In the book there is a little girl named Lanesha who lives with a caretaker named Mama Yaya. Lanesha's mother was very young when she had her. During Lanesha's birth her mother died. Lanesha doesn't know who her father is, and her moms family doesn't want her. So she is left with Mama Yaya who loves and cares for her. Its not that she just cares for her, but they share something in common tha ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paige Thomson
The Ninth Ward is a story about a young girl who miraculously survives Hurricane Katrina. The story begins with a Lanesha, who is living with her caretaker known as, Mama Ya-Ya. We find out early on that Lanesha became an orphan at birth and that Mama Ya-Ya was a stranger that was willing to take her in. Mama Ya-Ya has strange powers were she is able to see into the future, this plays into the story when a big storm is approaching and Mama Ya-Ya fears the worst. Since the two live in the Ninth ...more
April Fell
April M. Fell
Genre: Multicultural Fiction
Format: Paperback print
Selection Process: recommended by my younger daughter; Coretta Scott King Award 2011 (AWARD)
Grades 6-8th

Goodreads Inc. (2013). Goodreads: Ninth Ward. Retrieved from

Rhodes, J.P. (2010). Ninth Ward. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Ninth Ward is a story set in The Ninth Ward of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The main character as narrator, Lanesha, is a tw
NINTH WARD by Jewell Parker Rhodes is the second Hurricane Katrina book I've read this year. The first, Paul Volponi's HURRICANE SONG, is an edgy, gut-wrenching ride through the hell that was the Superdome in the days surrounding the storm, and is really a book for older middle school and high school students. This one, NINTH WARD, manages to capture the terror and hopelessness of those dark days in New Orleans without losing hope, and does so in a way that won't be too much for younger readers. ...more
The world watched the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the multitudes of people who were stranded and waiting for help. This is a different look at the hurricane and the people who lived in the Ninth Ward, the area of the city most affected by the flooding of the city. Lanesha has been raised by Mama Ya-Ya, the midwife who was present at her birth which also resulted in the death of her mother. Mama Ya-Ya tells Lanesha that she was born with a caul over her face and that she has the "sight" wh ...more
I'm always looking for books for my students to read, and I hope that I can inspire a few to read this. I loved the rhythm of Ninth Ward, and how Rhodes developed a chorus that included symbols, signs, love, bridges, and internal strength. Lanesha is a 12 year old girl living in the Ninth Ward with her Mama Ya-Ya. Through Lanesha's thoughts and observations, the reader gains a more personal understanding of what it was like to survive Katrina. Thank you, Nicole, for treating my students and me t ...more
Audience: Intermediate

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Discussion questions

Remembering: Describe Mama YaYa and Lanesha. What makes them different from other people in the Ninth Ward?

Understanding: What makes the Ninth Ward different from other parts of New Orleans? Think about the way Lanesha describes the neighborhood and her neighbors.

Applying: Why didn't Lanesha and her MaMa YaYa not evacuate when the news and the mayor told them to?

Analyzing: There are ghosts in this book, Lanesha and MaMa YaYa c
I was caught between a two and three star on this. While the language and voice are beautifully wrought, I wondered how authentic the story is. I couldn't find any evidence that Jewell Parker Rhodes had lived or even spent a long time in New Orleans or Louisiana. Perhaps, she has a relative from the area. Overall, though, this book felt cliche with drawing on Vodoo and ghosts. Lanesha's voice and the events of Katrina do tie the book together,so the plot is not hard to follow as other reviewers ...more
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very easy to read and also very interesting that I did not want to put it down. I really liked how the main character did not have a traditional upbringing because many children can relate to this. In addition, I think that a lot of kids can think of a time when they had to be strong during a tough time in their life, which was one of the main ideas in the book. It was also very inspiring to see the main character act so strong when Hurricane Katrina hi ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Ashland 566 Autum...: Realistic Fiction 2 3 Nov 27, 2012 11:08PM  
Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Picks: Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes 1 5 Aug 31, 2012 10:31PM  
  • Born to Fly
  • Zora and Me
  • The Rock and the River (The Rock and the River, #1)
  • Black Radishes
  • One Crazy Summer (Gaither Sisters, #1)
  • Shooting Kabul
  • Jake
  • Serafina's Promise
  • Countdown
  • How to Survive Middle School
  • Ghetto Cowboy
  • Bird in a Box
  • Grounded
  • Crunch
  • The Year Money Grew on Trees
  • After Tupac and D Foster
  • The Great Wall of Lucy Wu
  • The Dreamer
Jewell Parker Rhodes is the award-winning author of Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass’ Women, Season, Moon, Hurricane, and the children’s books, Ninth Ward, Sugar, and the upcoming Bayou Magic. Her writing guides include: Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors and The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction.

Her work has been published in Germany, Italy, Can
More about Jewell Parker Rhodes...
Voodoo Dreams: A Novel of Marie Laveau Sugar Douglass' Women Voodoo Season Yellow Moon: A  Novel

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“The world can be a hard place sometimes... You have to have heart. You have to be strong. Parents want their children to grow up to be strong. Not just any strong, mind you, but loving strong.” 12 likes
“But you...are my sweetest gift. The life surprise that soothed all my ills and gave me my greatest joys. I feel so blessed you are mine.

—Mama Ya-Ya”
More quotes…