Friday, September 3, 2010

Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi

If you and your students happened to not be down in New Orleans this week five years ago, it might feel a bit faraway. I might very well recommend Hurricane Song to a young adult reader looking for a realistic fiction as the five-year anniversary reports cover the fronts of news media. Author Paul Volponi (Rooftop, Black and White, Rikers High) invites the reader to step into the shoes of a young man encountering Hurricane Katrina. Volponi's writing strikes this reader as fairly wooden, but there are bright moments of fresh language that make it bearable. His talents as a writer center on his selection of subject matter, his ability to help his reader think into things like power on a variety of simple and complicated levels, and his knack for weaving disparate plots, sub-plots, and characters together and apart to a satisfying conclusion. Recommended for middle and high school boys. Pair with Spike Lee's documentary on the same subject, When the Levees Broke (at Summit) and memoirs like Soft Skull's Neighborhood Story Project (at Bridges) for a non-fiction counterpoint.

Volponi, Paul. Hurricane Song. New York: Penguin, 2008.

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