I hadn't heard of this book before I saw it on a bookstore table, but have been interested in the aftermath of Katrina.
My first week teaching was the week before Katrina hit. I remember telling my classes that it was going to be a big deal. And, sure enough, I was right. When we talk federalism (sharing power between the states and the national government), I always talk about Katrina and the clusterf*** that it was.
My good friend Kelli moved to Wyoming for grad school a few weeks before Katrina hit. Her family lost their home. As you might imagine, it's affected her quite a bit. Through her personal experience, grad school research, and work in the region, Katrina has stayed in the forefront of my mind.
So, I saw this book at the bookstore and immediately picked it up. It is the story of nine New Orleanians. (What the heck are they called?) It follows their lives in New Orleans prior to, during, and after Katrina.
It was a bit slow for me in the beginning, but picked up towards the middle. The last part with Katrina and its aftermath was fascinating. Since these are actual people and their stories, the reality of what they experienced was overwhelming: the anger and helplessness they felt. Some of the people profiled are the parish coroner, a relative of the woman in the wheelchair at the Superdome, a cop, and the owner of the bar that stayed open that you probably saw on tv. The author's exploration of social issues, particularly race, was a consistent theme throughout the book, which gave a real sense of this is how things are.
I've already sent it to Kelli. I can't wait to hear what she thinks about it given all she's been through. I'm really bad/good about doing this-- handing books over to people because I want to know what they think.
In short, another non-fiction book that reads like a novel, my favorite kind! If you are interested in race relations or Katrina, definitely pick it up!