Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I finished this book yesterday and it is still resonating with me. I can't say that it is piece of literary excellence, but it is a tremendously honest portrayal of the circumstance in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The description of life for these refugees in the Super Dome was horrific. I remember when this tragedy occurred, I was saddened, and sent money for relief...but I don't think the intensity of the situation hit me until I read this novel. The human suffering, extortion, gangs, violence...very intense.
Having said that, I think that was the best part of the novel, by far! I thought the secondary plot line that featured the relationship between Miles and his father was a bit contrived. But, I certainly felt that the author did a good job of getting us to feel Mile's disappointment in his relationship with his father, but doesn't develop it enough for my liking. Overall, I felt that the characters and their relationships take a back seat to the telling of the hurricane story. For that alone I felt this to be a valuable book! So many of our students lead difficult lives, a book like this could help us to see beyond our own tragedies, to see a more global picture. I would like to think it would foster a more empathetic view of others.
And, as always, you know me...I loved the epilogue! I thought this did a nice job of tying things together and fleshing out a bit more of the father's character.
I would have liked the author to have addressed where he obtained his information. Was it from a first hand account? Interviews with evacuees?
The fact that this was a short, fast-paced novel with lots of action would make it a great pick for reluctant readers...and a male protagonist doesn't hurt. I also think it would be a great book for using for discussion of sociology, American history, racism...lots of points for discussion. I could see this a great literature circle book, or a class read for freshmen or 15:1 ELA.
Anxious to see what you all think...and our timing was interesting, I actually read the book on the day of Mardi Gras!