Finished: Oct. 3, 2009
First Published: Aug 2009
Genre: nonfiction, graphic novel, biographical, current events, history
Monday, August 22, 2005.
Reason for Reading: Cybil Awards nominee. Received from the library.
Summary: Follows the lives of seven individuals before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. Each of these people come from different walks of life giving very different experiences as they share the same devastation of a natural disaster.
Comments: The book is quite powerful, especially the beginning and middle. The coming of the storm is handled very dramatically with wordless panels and was my favourite part of the book. The story is told chronologically and flips between the seven people (5, technically as 2 are in pairs) this is a little confusing at first but once you get into the book the reader gets into the rhythm. Not all of the characters stay behind and while all characters are followed, inevitably those who stay are the ones with the most character development. I easily read the book in an afternoon and enjoyed the powerful firsthand view of survivors. Being Canadian this is actually the first book I've read on the topic.
There were a few things I didn't like. Though the book is a firsthand account and not political, per se, it obviously has a slant that is noticeable very early on with an anti-Bush graffiti on a bathroom stall on page 26 and a very stilted, unnatural (not necessarily logical, imho) conversation near the end of the book (pg. 147/148) between two of the characters listening to a talk radio viewer questioning why so many people stayed behind. The inclusion of these two bits unobtrusively add a political slant. Secondly, there is one character who uses very foul language every time she opens her mouth, including the f-word. Her story is probably one of the most compelling but it was hard to get past the obscenities. These, though, are minor irritants to this reader and may not bother others at all. The book is certainly worth a read.
As to the book's nomination for a Cybil, I'm going to have to say it does not, imho, qualify as having "kid appeal". The book is written for an adult audience. There is one character who is a high school student, but he is the least significant character in the book and has little page time compared to the others. The story of his parents is more interesting than his own actually. I don't think the stories of this group of adults are going to appeal to young teens and there is the problem with the foul language. The book would appeal to 17/18yos, but in my mind once you reach 17yo you are usually reading adult books anyway, making that a moot point.
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