Karen Ball's Reviews > Ninth Ward

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
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Aug 01, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011-challenge
Read in July, 2011

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 ghosts, including her mother, who has never left Mama YaYa's house. She is also smart, and loves math and school, even though she has few friends. When Mama YaYa dreams of a storm and a blackness that follows, they are both confused, until Hurricane Katrina appears in the Gulf and advances on the city. They have no money to evacuate, and so they stay in their house, hunkered down with some basic supplies. It's up to Lanesha to use everything she has learned, from school, from Mama YaYa, and from the ghosts, in order to survive the storm and the flood that follows. Beautifully written historical fiction, with magical realism and some of the best characters around! Lanesha is one of the most courageous and resilient girls I have ever read about. 6th grade and up.
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