Saint Louis Armstrong Beach (yep that is his name) is a musically talented young man in New Orleans. He lives with his chef father and social worker mother in Treme. Saint plays his clarinet for tourists in the French Quarter and is saving up to buy a new clarinet. He has adopted a stray dog named Shadow. He and his family closely watch the progress of Tropical Storm Katrina has it heads towards New Orleans and turns into a hurricane. As they get ready to evacuate things start falling apart. His mom can’t leave the hospital until all the patients are safely evacuated and Shadow runs off. Saint makes the decision to not evacuate and go find Shadow. He takes shelter with his neighbor Ms. Moran during the storm.
This was a really quick read but covered a lot of territory. I have never lived through a hurricane, but I thought Woods really conveyed the tension of the people in New Orleans leading up to the storm. The majority of the book is set before the storm so there is a lot of information. She does a good job of introducing us to the characters in Saint’s neighborhood. You could also feel the tension during the storm as Saint and Ms. Moran take refuge in her attic and watch the flood waters rise. I wish there was more detail about the aftermath of the storm. It seems like that is when things really fell apart in New Orleans and it isn’t even touched on here. Saint is reunited with his family and they all come through the storm fine. There are a few minor mentions of the poor people and their inability to evacuate and the Superdome, but nothing is mentioned about what happened to those people during and after the storm. I think that is a missed opportunity, but this is still a really good little book.