Posts Tagged 'jazz'

Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  136 p.

RAC:  Yes

Miles recently moved to live with his musician father in New Orleans and is still trying to get used to his new city when Hurricane Katrina unexpectedly changes his life forever.  Miles, his father, and his uncle all end up in the overcrowded Superdome.  There are terrible living conditions, including not enough food, gang activity, and limited bathrooms.  They also lose the freedom to come and go freely.  Miles and his family try to make the best out of their stay, but face many hardships as they try to wait out the storm.  In the process, the people around Miles struggle to come to terms with the fact that their entire lives and the city they love are all gone.

Many people saw accounts of Hurricane Katrina on the news, but this book gives an inside view of what it would have been like to actually live through this catastrophe.   There are some violent and difficult situations that arise as people panic and strive to keep their families safe.  For anyone who has not been in a situation this sudden and severe this can be an eye opening read about the many aspects of human nature during a natural disaster.

Notes From the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  265 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Alex Gregory is coping with his parents’ messy divorce and one night decides to break into the liquor cabinet, get drunk, steal his mother’s car, and drive to his father’s to tell him off.  His plan doesn’t work out when he drives over his neighbor’s lawn and breaks her precious lawn gnome.  Things only get worse when his judge overhears him saying that he doesn’t agree with his lawyer’s decision to plead guilty since no one got hurt.  This particular judge has no time for drunk drivers and proceeds to give him 100 hours of community service at a local nursing home.

Solomon Lewis is the man Alex is assigned to visit during his 100 hours.  At first Sol seems mean and mean and overly critical to Alex, but one day he brings his guitar and plays some jazz and Sol loves it.  Soon Alex decides to work with two students at school to plan a jazz concert for the home.  To his surprise, Sol ends up knowing a lot more about jazz than he thought.  As Alex spends time with Sol he learns that he has a daughter who never comes to visit him and he also has emphysema.  He wants to help make his last months memorable and meaningful, which is exactly what he does.

Sonnenblick, the author of Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, has written another great story about a teenager who loves music and wants to make a difference.  This story proves that no matter what has happened in the past you can always start over and make things right.  His stories show teenagers that they do not have to accept the stereotype that they are reckless, selfish, and an overall a menace to society.  In fact, teenagers can do great things, if they want to.