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Ninth Ward

(The Louisiana Girls Trilogy #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  5,975 ratings  ·  938 reviews
From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a heartbreaking and uplifting tale of survival in the face of Hurricane Katrina.

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
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published August 16th 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  5,975 ratings  ·  938 reviews

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Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Read for my young adult literature class.
Mar 23, 2016 rated it liked it
A couple of weeks ago, on a day that school was closed due to impending flash floods, Hurricane Katrina came up in conversation and my fourth-grader nephew perked up. He mentioned how bad the Ninth Ward had gotten hit, proud to be able to contribute to the conversation. He then told me they’d read this book in class. When I asked him if I should read it, his response was a simple yes.

If you’ve lived through Katrina, you won’t find anything erroneous in this account, though the stereotypes are fa
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
Feb 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really loved Lanesha and her relationship with Mama YaYa, as well as how being an outsider gives Lanesha the courage to stand up to bullies and reach out to others who don't fit in. I also deeply admired how Lanesha seamlessly integrates her guardian's spiritualism and numerology with her own love of math and engineering.

My quibbles are minimal. One, I have a 12-yr-old child, so I couldn't help comparing the protag's thought processes to my kid's and feeling dubious. Two, the protag's constant
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
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Dawn Edgar
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kid-books
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
Oct 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 08, 2011 rated it liked 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
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Ghost Boys by this author earlier in the year, and I generally enjoy disaster survival novels—this one is set during Hurricane Katrina—so I had high hopes for this book. And it did get off to a strong start. I really liked the main character, Lanesha, who manages to brush aside ostracism from the other students at school and just focuses on learning as much as she can. She's someone whose birthday treat might be a dictionary or an encyclopedia set or a pack of sparkly pens, so I can ce ...more
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-books
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
Jan 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery, 2011
I do have issue with "fresh baked pralines." Since when are pralines baked? ...more
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ninth Ward was named after a sector of New Orleans where Lanesha lived before IT happened. But even after IT I still lived in Ninth Ward in my mind. I often revisited scenes from the book from previous chapters because I couldn't get enough of Mama Ya-Ya's motherly fondness (1), the struggles of a girl who is found an outcast, bewitched, and, in essence, a freak (2), and a point of view that reminds me so well what it was like to be in the sixth grade (3).
(1) Mama Ya-Ya's motherly fondness. Ther
Natalie Varnell
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Barb Middleton
Feb 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
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 ch
Karen Ball
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-challenge
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
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: second-childhood
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
Francesca Forrest
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Lovely book. I treasured each moment looking at the world through Lanesha's eyes: her loving thoughts about Mama Yaya, the great-grandmother-aged woman who raised her, her thoughts on school, on math symbols and words, her thoughts on other kids. Readers know that Katrina is coming; readers know that Lanesha, living in the Ninth Ward, is in danger, but Lanesha doesn't. For Lanesha, building a friendship with TaShon, a boy in her grade who's as much of an outsider as she is, and accepting the ove ...more
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Wilhelmina Jenkins
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
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Found it to be a good story for an audience of young readers, and anyone really. It deals with the realities for many children in a way that doesn't hide some of the harshness of childhood. I found heartwarming, and from a sincere place. Lanesha is a wonderfully written character and I appreciate that these kinds of works exist for our youth. ...more
Chloe Allysen
Apart from the rather creepy aspect of ghosts. It is a good story and I liked it very much.
Nov 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
April Fell
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Josephine Sorrell
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it

Lanisha's teenage mother died the day her baby girl was born. The baby was born with a caul. (This is a rare occurrence; 1 in 80,000 babies are born with the amniotic fluid covering the infants face.) Her birthing woman , everyone knows as mama Ya-Ya, removed the caul and buried it except for one drop of blood. She put that into a cup of tea for Lanesha's mother hopefully to make her stronger, but still, she died. Due to the superstitious fears of being born with a caul, none of her blood kin wi
Paige Thomson
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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Ashland 566 Autum...: Realistic Fiction 2 3 Nov 27, 2012 03:08PM  

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Jewell Parker Rhodes has always loved reading and writing stories. Born and raised in Manchester, a largely African-American neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh, she was a voracious reader as a child. She began college as a dance major, but when she discovered there were novels by African Americans, for African Americans, she knew she wanted to be an author. She wrote six novels for adult ...more

Other books in the series

The Louisiana Girls Trilogy (3 books)
  • Sugar
  • Bayou Magic

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