New Hampshire resident, Zane Dupree, agrees to visit his great-grandmother, Miss Trissy, in New Orleans to learn more about his long-deceased father's family history. Miss Trissy raised Zane's father, and despite Zane's misgivings about the trip, he finds Miss Trissy warm, interesting, and full of life. Zane is in New Orleans merely days when the threat of Hurricane Katrina bears down on this lively, historical city. Through a serious of mishaps, Zane ends up abandoned in New Orleans when the hurricane strikes. As the levy breaks, he must climb into the stifling attic to escape the rising floodwaters. Once the hurricane dies down, he punches through the roof to get fresh air, and a canoe, carrying elderly man and small girl, floats nearby and rescues him from the attic. Over the next several days, Zane witnesses the lawlessness of New Orleans during that time, along with the discrimination of poor African Americans who are just trying to find help. Zane discovers there is no medical care to be found, and the conditions at the "shelter of last resort", The Superdome, are abysmal. Eventually, the crew is able to amble its way over the bridge and out of New Orleans, where they finally find the help they so desperately seek.
This wasn't so much an enjoyable read, as it is difficult to find the subject of Hurricane Katrina "enjoyable". It was, however, a riveting account of the hurricane and its aftermath; the pages fairly flew. I found Zane's perspective of the tragic events to be a perfectly appropriate account for the 10-13 year olds for whom it was written. It's hard to believe that now, nearly 9 years out, Hurricane Katrina is considered a historical event. I did find the ending quite abrupt, but clearly the author intended to let the story remain in New Orleans. Overall, I would highly recommend this compelling novel for upper elementary and middle school students learning about Hurricane Katrina's aftermath.
You can find Zane and the Hurricane in the Middle Grades - Historical Fiction section of The Book Children Store.