Nichole Hurst's Reviews > Ninth Ward

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
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The book recreates the before and after events surrounding Hurrican Katrina for a twelve year old black girl named Lanesha, who grows up in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans. After her mother's death, Lanesha is cared for a woman who helped birth her- Mama Yaya, who is considered a healer and midwife. Abandoned by Lanesha's uptown family, Mama Yaya didn't hesitate to take the girl in. Unfortunatley, Lanesha is bullied at school and made fun of for her green eyes, despite loving math and being a smart girl. Lanesha and Mama Yaya both have mystical powers, as Lanesha is able to see ghosts and Mama Yaya is psyhic and can see the future. Yaya dreams of a storm that is followed by blackness, which is Hurricane Katrina. With no money to evacuate, Lanesha has to take on the responsibility of survival for the two of them. This is when Lanesha's character fully develops, and we see her become a strong reslilent young woman. Rhodes further develops the plot at this point with Mama Yaya's health failing, the water continuing to rise, and the chaos that took place after this horrible event.

This book uses clean languange and could be used in an upper elementart classroom, but I would target it at middle school students. This is a book that I would have in my classroom library, but one that I would use to teach about New Orleans and Hurrican Katrina, mystical themes, and stong family relationships.
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