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.
"A story that will grab avid and reluctant readers alike."--School Library Journal
A Junior Library Guild Selection
"Whether it's about war, or terrorism, or natural disasters, I have always believed that fiction tells a more layered and complete story of an earthshaking event than all television and newspaper reports combined.In Julie Lamana's novel of courage and survival, you don't just learn what happens to siblings trapped in the chaos of Hurricane Katrina, you feel it."-- Nancy Lamb,author of The Art and Craft of Storytelling and The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children
"Experience vicariously the uncertainty of Armani and her siblings as their whole world is turned topsy-turvy."--Reading Today
"Can be used in the classroom to spark discussion of the local, state, and federal responses during and after Katrina."-VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates
"An honest, bleak account of a national tragedy sure to inspire discussion and research."--Kirkus Reviews
"Accomplished debut. full of touching, distressing detail."-Booklist