I have read quite a few novels and memoirs of Katrina and its aftermath. This has become a genre to itself; a way for people to heal through story (both for writers and readers). The stories we tell draw us closer, educate us, and remind us of home. It is my hope that the books written about Hurricane Katrina will serve us in another way as well...they will remind us of the colossal mismanagement of this disaster and keep it from happening ever again.
Julie Lamana's Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere is a novel of Hurricane Katrina. Lamana guides us through that fateful week in August of 2005 by telling the story through the eyes of Armani Curtis, a young girl from the Ninth Ward. Armani is precocious and as a reader I enjoyed being in her head in the early parts of the novel as she fusses about her siblings and prepares for her tenth birthday party. There is a great sense of family within this novel. What may be the greatest trouble with historical novels (or possibly their greatest triumph) is that it is difficult to read about likable characters knowing what will soon come to pass. At times, I wanted to crawl inside the novel and warn everyone of what was coming, but I know I would have been seen as nothing more than a crazy Cassandra.
Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. She's having a party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain wrapped box. Turning ten years old is a big deal to Armani. It means she's older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans and tears her world apart, Armani realizes that being ten means being brave, watching loved ones die, and mustering all her strength to help her family weather the storm. A gripping story of courage and survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere celebrates the power of hope and love in the face of the unthinkable.
About the Author
Julie T. Lamana lives in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, and worked in an after-school program for children displaced by Hurricane Katrina, gaining a unique insight into their experiences surviving the storm. This book is a reflection of those experiences.