Sarah's Reviews > Ninth Ward

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
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Jul 15, 12

bookshelves: young-adult
Read from July 13 to 15, 2012

** spoiler alert ** There were some things I liked about this book, but as a whole I don't think it fully delivers. The main character, Lanesha, is a likeable 12-year-old, and I'll admit I was charmed by her open love of school and learning. The lessons she learns (or starts to learn) throughout the novel - on friendship, family bonds, loss, internal strength and survival - are moving, and most readers can identify with Lanesha on one level or another. The story doesn't really pick up until mid-way through the novel when Lanesha and her neighbors start preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina. From there, it's a tense and gripping journey through the storm and its aftermath - the only part where the author truly held all of my attention.

I found the mysticism of Lanesha's caretaker, Mama Ya Ya, interesting but the presence of the ghosts as the eventual crutch for Lanesha and TaShon's survival was a bit too predictable and neat. For some reason it doesn't work for me, the combination of the supernatural with a very real, very literal event that altered the lives of millions of people, and I found the ghosts more of a distraction from the story than anything else. As a native of Louisiana, much of the details and setting, while vivid, came across as cliched and occasionally inaccurate. I think the novel would have been more powerful for me had the author committed to an entirely realistic perspective supported by better research and personal experience of New Orleans.

The characters and bit of suspense were enough to keep this novel alive for me, but overall it was disappointing. I was hoping for a fantastic novel, but in the end it just doesn't live up to the potential.
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