Posted in Children's Lit

Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes

7118768Ninth Ward
Jewell Parker Rhodes
2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN – 9780316043076
Genre – Realistic/Fantastical Fiction
Age – Middle School

3.3 Stars

Lanesha is just starting a new school year, when the weathermen start to talk about the big storm headed her way to New Orleans. Her mother died while giving birth to her, and the rest of her relatives want nothing to do with her, so she lives with the healer who helped birth her. Mama Ya-Ya is known around the neighborhood to have special visions and healing powers. In late August 2005, she starts having strange dreams about the storm. She seems to be falling deeper and deeper into her dreams as Lanesha has to prepare for Hurrican Katrina for both of them, and hopefully she will be able to keep them both alive as well.

I wanted this to be a five star book, I really did. I even battled with not giving it four stars. I thought the idea was great, but it was filled with too much fluff to satisfy my needs. It was so filled with New Orleans mystical nuances, that it detracted from the story. The story should have been about an incredibly brave girl who had to fight to keep herself and her loved ones safe, instead it was about magic, mysticism, and my frustrations! Honestly, even without the magic, I’m not sure I believe Lanesha as a 12-year old character, she was almost too brave and strong. So, the positive, I loved the setting and the building of the setting. I felt the culture and the community of the place before the storm. I loved the suspense, and how just when it seemed to fade away it came back tenfold. I liked some of the characters enough to hope for them and root for them, but some I didn’t care enough about when tragedy occurred. I also liked the language. I thought it was very beautifully written. Here is where I contradict myself; I don’t feel like the writing would have been so lyrical without the magic and mysticism that I thought hurt the book. Honestly, I’m confused about my feelings on this one, and may change my mind after a little time.


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