Patrick, Denise Lewis. Finding Someplace
August 4th 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Reesie is making plans for her thirteenth birthday party-- she's made a new outfit, her older brother has bought her matching shoes, and a neighbor, Ms. Martine, has made one of her famous coconut cakes. When bad weather closes in on New Orleans, however, the plans go awry. Her father, a policeman, refuses to leave town because he needs to go to work. Her mother, a nurse, gets stuck at work when other staff members don't show up, so Reesie ends up helping Ms. Martine and staying with her as the storm fills the Ninth Ward with water. She learns a lot about Ms. Martine's life, which is very interesting, since she was a writer in the 1930s, even having a film made out of one of her stories. Reesie's friend Orlando's brother, Dre, shows up with his new wife, Tree, and the four try to ride out the storm, ending up on the roof, where they are rescued. Because Reesie's father is a policeman, everyone is on the lookout for her, but she doesn't find her father until after she is mugged and the bag she took from the house with all of the important papers and pictures in it is taken from her. Since her mother is from New Jersey, Reesie and her mother move in with a cousin there while her father tries to rebuild the house. It's not an easy transition, especially since Reesie is worried that her parents will break up, and she misses Orlando. Will Reesie ever be able to return to New Orleans?
Strengths: It has been ten years since Katrina hit, so today's middle grade readers have no working memory of the event. This is a good overview of what the Ninth Ward was like before the storm, showcases nicely some of the people in the area, has Reesie's tale of survival AND addresses the aftermath of the storm in a way that most books I've read haven't. As an added bonus, Reesie does NOT have a dog. (When Hurricane Katrina Hit Home, Hooper Finds a Family: A Hurricane Katrina Dog's Survival Tale, I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005, Zane and the Hurricane, Buddy, and Saint Louis Armstrong Beach all involve dogs. Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere involves a birthday.)
Weaknesses: The romance with Orlando is a bit of a stretch, especially when Reesie is in New Jersey. What I really want to read is a story with Ms. Martine in the 1930s!
What I really think: This is probably the most interesting, readable and complete book about Hurricane Katrina that I've read.