Rummanah Aasi
Description: On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina's monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under twenty feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage—and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality.

Review: In this slim graphic novel Brown is able to recount the horrifying events of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2005. Instead of focusing on individual stories, we are given a journalistic approach to the natural disaster. Told chronologically from the hurricane’s seemingly benign origin in West Africa, the story follows the storm almost hourly, revealing every misstep along the way that resulted in so much unnecessary loss and devastation. By the time Katrina passed over New Orleans, more than 1,400 people were dead and hundreds of thousands had fled the city. 
  The text is clear and easy to read, relying exclusively on data and statistics interspersed with quotes from residents, rescue crews, journalists, and news reports and not skirting away from the controversial incompetency of the government. There were many new to me facts that I learned in this graphic novel. The haunting imagery with its monochromatic panels, hits you viscerally as you hear from people who are battling oppressive heat and fear. There are pages that are wordless because the illustrations can only capture and convey the horrors that people suffered. Spare but gets the point across. I only wished that the graphic novel dug deeper into the issues that Hurricane Katrina raised to the surface and which unfortunately continues to rear its ugly head with Hurricane Maria.

Curriculum Connection: English, Science, and Social Studies

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are images of bodies floating in water that may be too much for sensitive readers. Recommended for Grades 6 and up.

If you like this book try: A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld
2 Responses
  1. I read both this book and A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. Both helped me gain more perspective on the calamity in New Orleans after Katrina.

  2. Natural disasters seem like good topics for graphic novels as so much can be conveyed in the illustrations.

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