Tuesday, July 1, 2008
HURRICANE SONG by Paul Volponi
Miles has been living in Chicago with his mother and has recently moved to New Orleans to live with his father. His father left the family years ago to play jazz music. Miles knows that his father's life is his music, but when his mother remarried and the family in Chicago increased by three kids, he knew he had no choice. Taking a chance on his father seemed like the only way to go.
So far the two months father and son have spent together hasn't been all that great. Miles is looking forward to playing football and maybe even making the varsity team at his new school. Unfortunately, he knows he probably won't see his dad at any of his games. His dad can't even remember that it's football Miles plays and not basketball.
When news that a huge hurricane is heading toward New Orleans reaches them, Miles, his father, and his uncle pile into the car with the idea of heading toward Baton Rouge and higher ground. The traffic is terrible, and the car soon overheats, leaving them stranded on the highway. As the storm gets closer, their only option is to follow the rest of the evacuees to the shelter at the Superdome.
In the several days Miles and his family spend in the Superdome, the storm batters the exterior of the massive building while the interior suffers from a "storm" of its own. When tired, frightened people are crowded into a facility not equipped to handle the situation, there are bond to be problems. In those few days Miles experiences horribly unsanitary conditions, watches as thugs threaten, beat, and steal from innocent people, and sees death and suffering no person should ever have to witness.
Most of us watched the drama of Katrina unfold on our TV's, but Miles's experience brings us the reality of the actual storm and those first days afterward. Sadly, many are still suffering and trying to recover years later. Everyone should read this book as a reminder that our country reacted poorly in the early stages of the disaster, and even at this late stage, not enough has been done to help rebuild the lives of so many.