Saturday, February 22, 2014

Zane and the Hurricane

It has been years since I have read Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, so details of the story are hazy at best. But, my total love of the book has always stayed with me.  This fall I was quite excited to hear that Philbrick had another book to be published.

Zane and the Hurricane takes place during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2005.  Zane has never known his father, who died before he was born.  His  mother doesn't talk a lot about him and the two met while in the military, so they were not from the same town, and didn't know each other's families.

When Zane's mom discovers the grandma who raised Zane's dad is alive and well in New Orleans, she sends Zane to spend some time with her so the two can get to know each other. The visit itself is going well, but a storm is threatening Louisiana and as things progress the storm develops into Hurricane Katrina.

Zane's mother is trying to provide assistance from afar, and his great grandmother is doing her best to get them to a safe place, but when Zane jumps out of the church van taking him and his great grandma to safety in order to chase his dog that jumped out the window, the two become separated.
That's when things become a little bit scary.

There are a lot of struggles Zane must deal with in order to get to safety - more than just Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. On his journey, Zane is befriended by a feisty young girl and an elderly musician, who are also on their way to finding help.  Dwindling food supplies, rising flood waters, hospitals unable to provide assistance, and a police presence that was not always helpful depending on the color of a person's skin are just a few of the page-turning problems that Philbrick's characters must overcome.

Philbrick has managed to create a story with suspense that centers around a time of great sadness.  Zane and the Hurricane is just one of a growing number of books set during Hurricane Katrina, and I appreciate the research Philbrick has done in recreating the storm and its effect on the people of New Orleans. 

Zane and the Hurricane would make a great read aloud or book club selection. I have students - boys and girls - to whom I am anxious to give this title. Philbrick has written another winner.

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