Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere

5.0 12
by Julie T. Lamana
     
 

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Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. All her friends are coming to her party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain wrapped box. Turning ten is a big deal to Armani. It means she's older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans, Armani realizes that being… See more details below

Overview

Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. All her friends are coming to her party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain wrapped box. Turning ten is a big deal to Armani. It means she's older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans, Armani realizes that being ten means being brave, watching loved ones die, and mustering all her strength to help her family weather the storm. A powerful story of courage and survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere celebrates the miraculous power of hope and love in the face of the unthinkable.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A gripping story of survival."--Middle Shelf Magazine

A Junior Library Guild Selection

"Whether it's about war, or terrorism, or natural disasters, I have always believed that fiction tells a more layered and complete story of an earthshaking event than all television and newspaper reports combined.In Julie Lamana's novel of courage and survival, you don't just learn what happens to siblings trapped in the chaos of Hurricane Katrina, you feel it."-- Nancy Lamb,author of The Art and Craft of Storytelling and The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children

"Experience vicariously the uncertainty of Armani and her siblings as their whole world is turned topsy-turvy."--Reading Today

"Can be used in the classroom to spark discussion of the local, state, and federal responses during and after Katrina."-VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates

"An honest, bleak account of a national tragedy sure to inspire discussion and research."--Kirkus Reviews

"An enlightening glimpse into what life was like during Hurricane Katrina."--Library Media Connection

"Accomplished debut. full of touching, distressing detail."-Booklist

"A story that will grab avid and reluctant readers alike."--School Library Journal

"A moving experience that readers will not soon forget."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Stacey Hayman
Armani Curtis is looking forward to celebrating her tenth birthday with lots of friends over the weekend, but it is the end of August in 2005 and she lives in New Orleans. Armani’s parents and Memaw are watching the progress of Hurricane Katrina but do not hear the call to evacuate until it is too late. Now, the adults and Armani’s big brother, Georgie, younger sister, Sealy, and the toddler twins are trapped in the Lower Nines while the storm rages. Once the storm has passed, the family faces a series of frightening challenges, from requiring rescue off the roof of their house to a temporary stop at the Superdome to an eventual return their home. Will the surviving Curtis family be able to regroup as their city rebuilds? Using the perspective of a ten-year-old allows young readers to more easily imagine what it might have been like to experience Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. A few continuity problems, including Armani introducing Sealy to the Boman kids at the shelter when they have been riding the same bus to the same school, and a few too many symbolic references to the same sentimental objects, such as Memaw’s compass necklace, are distracting but forgivable. More importantly, this book can be used in the classroom to spark discussion of the local, state, and federal responses during and after Katrina. Students could also investigate the continuing impact of this natural disaster on those living in the poorest sections of the city and future issues of housing, levy safety, and environmental challenges facing the area. Reviewer: Stacey Hayman; Ages 11 to 14.
School Library Journal
03/01/2014
Gr 4–7—Ten-year-old Armani is crushed to learn that her long-anticipated birthday party will be cancelled due to Hurricane Katrina's imminent approach. Her disappointment quickly transforms into terror as the storm hits, separating her from her parents. She must look after her two younger sisters on a journey that takes her first to the Superdome, then to a shelter, and finally back home to the ravaged Lower Ninth Ward. This is a story that will grab avid and reluctant readers alike because of the intensity of its drama. The plot is well constructed, and the cliff-hanger endings of many chapters will ensure rapid page turning. Armani is a fully realized protagonist, and her narrative effectively conveys the novel's mood, offering a sense of foreboding that grows into palpable fear. A well-defined setting, with evocative descriptions of the neighborhood and storm, enhances the story. Lamana handles the gritty details and macabre imagery quite gracefully, and never does the account seem sensationalized. Toward the novel's end, occasional hiccups in flow mar the narrative. The portrayal of some events seems far-fetched and conveniently coincidental. Likewise, the conclusion, though satisfactorily resolved, comes about somewhat awkwardly. However, these flaws are not so grievous as to distract in a meaningful way from the story at hand. Overall, this novel gives readers a realistic and vivid sense of what it may have been like to experience the disaster firsthand.—Julie Hanson, Chicago Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-15
As Armani Curtis' 10th birthday approaches, so does something far more ominous—a threatening storm in the Gulf of Mexico called Katrina. Armani's family, residents of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, doesn't have much in the way of material comforts, but they certainly have a strong and happy family, at least until Katrina blows in. During Armani's birthday party, the family is informed that the mayor has ordered an evacuation, but lacking the means to escape New Orleans, they must simply hunker down until the floodwaters force them to the roof. First, Armani's beloved grandmother dies, and then her father and brother are swept away by the floodwaters. When the rest of the Curtis clan makes its way to the Superdome, Mama must seek help for her sick baby boy, leaving Armani to get her two little sisters to a shelter until the family can be reunited. A couple of false notes notwithstanding, Lamana goes for and achieves realism here, carefully establishing the characters and setting before describing in brutal detail, beyond what is typical in youth literature, the devastating effects of Katrina—loss of multiple family members, reports of attacks in the Superdome, bodies drifting in the current and less-than-ideal shelter conditions. An honest, bleak account of a national tragedy sure to inspire discussion and research. (Historical fiction. 8-14)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781452130309
Publisher:
Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
04/08/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
12,830
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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