From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—Ruby, nearly 18, is an imaginative young woman in present-day New Orleans. Her unique way of expressing herself sets her apart from others. She is one with nature, speaking to the plants and animals around her. She named the trees "Rooted People" and the birds "Flying People." A butterfly has told her of a coming "Big Spin." Ruby imagines her life prior to coming to live with her grandmother, Mammaloose, but the woman has no patience for Ruby's stories. The teen wonders if the memories of her mother and father and two sisters are real or just in her mind. When Hurricane Katrina hits and all seems lost, Mammaloose begins to reveal secrets that she has kept from Ruby for years. In the midst of the ruin of the city, Ruby's "imagine," her distinctive way of looking at the world, gives hope to survivors as they begin to rebuild their lives. With a delightful cast of characters and evocative descriptions of places and events, this is an affecting story.—Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
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Ruby is a child of nature, and she communes with sparrows, trees, and butterflies, even in the heart of her New Orleans neighborhood that her grandmother, Mammaloose, refuses to call a “ward.” Ruby’s animal friends let her know that “a Big Spin“ is coming, but stubborn Mammaloose refuses to heed such fanciful communication, and she ignores her neighbors’ evacuation and the media’s escalating warnings. Then Hurricane Katrina arrives, tearing the roof off their shabby house and exposing their attic shelter, along with a host of family secrets. Antieau offers a complex, personal account of Katrina and her aftermath, compounding the horror of the storm with the details of individual tribulations. Readers will feel the vulnerability and despair of the communities affected by the storm, as well as the strength with which survivors faced it down. Ruby’s atmospheric narrative is as dense and pungent as the bayou, her words an honest expression of her unique world view, and a clue to the long-sought secrets of her past. Grades 6-10. --Thom Barthelmess