It’s been ten years now since Hurricane Katrina barreled through New Orleans causing the badly designed, poorly built and terribly managed federal levee system to fail. We all know about the terrible flooding that ensued, the lives lost and the billions of dollar in property damaged.
New Orleans is still working it’s way out of the mess. Everyone who lived here during that time has their own story to tell, some more dramatic than others.
Denise Lewis Patrick has written Finding Someplace, a novel for young people about those fateful days. It’s an easy read and one that I found difficult to put down. It tells the story of Reesie and her family who live in the Lower Ninth Ward and what they have to endure when the hurricane hits the city.
Creative, imaginative Reesie is just about to turn 13, and the day before the storm hits she and the family are making preparations for a big blowout birthday party for the next day. Of course, the reader knows what is about to happen, that Reesie’s dreams are about to get shattered.
The author very successfully builds an intense feeling of suspense and doom which anyone who has lived through a hurricane is familiar with, especially one as huge and destructive as Hurricane Katrina. I could feel my chest tightening and pulse quickening as I read for I’ve experienced several hurricanes myself.
And we all know what happened in the Lower Nine when the canal wall broke and buried most of that neighborhood under water. Through circumstances beyond her control Reesie is stuck there and makes it through the storm in the house of her elderly friend Miss Martine. The house is flooded and they have to bust a hole in the roof to survive and eventually get rescued.
The story picks up a few months later when we find that Reesie has moved to New Jersey with her mother. Her father, a New Orleans cop, has chosen to stay in the city to help with the recovery, a choice that has irked Reesie’s mother and caused a rift in their marriage.
Although this book is meant for young people, it’s a great read for older folks as well. The characters are expertly drawn, the buildup to the storm is rich and suspenseful. The follow up a few months later when the characters are dealing with living in a strange and different culture, New Jersey, gives you the feeling of what it was like for many people to have to leave their beloved home and try to make it somewhere else, even if only for a time.
For those who don’t know about Hurricane Katrina this is a great introduction to it. For those who do, it provides a visceral story of thousands who experienced the drama and suspense of dealing with the hurricane and being uprooted from New Orleans, the place that gives them life and fills their soul.
Read the book. You can get Finding Someplace on Amazon.