Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Review: Drowned City

Title: Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Author: Don Brown
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Source: Borrowed from Library

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.

My Review

Remembering Hurricane Katrina is one of the reasons why I picked this book up when it came into the school library. It's not every day that you get to see something so terrible and historic happen in your country, but I did. I remember watching the news to get updates. In 2005, I was in high school, and I never predicted that I would be witnessing yet another another historic event. Right as school went back for the fall, a catastrophic hurricane struck the Gulf Coast. Before Katrina, I was just a teenager living in Pennsylvania who didn't think much of hurricanes. After Katrina, I realized that these fierce storms can change the face of the earth.

I can't say enough about this book, so I'll try to keep it short and sweet. It's heartbreaking because it's so real. What is depicted in this graphic book is what really happened to so many Americans living on and around the Gulf Coast all those years ago.

The text of Drowned City is just informational enough to really get readers interested in what happened during the summer of 2005, but it's also not too much. The facts about the hurricane and its effects are there, but in a way that really reaches readers. There's a nice balance between educational material and stories that really grab at heartstrings. Even though I remember a lot of what happened after Katrina, I teared up a few times.

The artwork of Drowned City is also fantastic. It's what I like to call messy but detailed, and honestly, it fits this subject so perfectly. Each tile and drawing is just as stunning as the last. The artwork really looks like it was done to make readers feel the emotional weight of what happened in New Orleans that summer and fall. It's messy, just like their lives after the hurricane.

When I started reading Drowned City, I knew that I had stumbled onto something special, especially for me. But I realized that this is a book that today's teens can also relate to. Many of them were born around the time that Katrina hit, and their parents, like myself, have vivid memories of the storm and the months that followed. It's a book that they could read and easily talk to their parents, teachers, and any adult they know. It's a book that teaches them about history, but might also bridge a gap between the pre and post-Katrina generations.

I would recommend this book to anyone - really anyone. I think people who remember seeing Katrina on the news would enjoy reading and reflecting on what happened. I think teenagers who will read about Katrina in history books will get a better idea of the stories of so many different people if they read this book. Honestly, it's just a piece of art that should be read by any American. I would also recommend this book to fans of historic graphic novels and memoirs. 

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