City of Refuge by Tom Piazza

City_of_Refuge_med1I have to start out this review by letting you all know that I have not finished this book. But rest assured that I will! And I’ll give you the full report then. But I agreed to host this book for the wonderful TLC Book Tours today, and host it I shall! What I have read of this one so far is amazing. It’s also a painful book. All too painful because it’s all so real and brings back so many memories that were forgotten.

City of Refuge takes place in New Orleans during the days just before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. It mainly follows the story of a white family and a black family living in two very different parts of New Orleans and living under very different circumstances. The white family is upper middle class, lives in a nice area uptown and has the means to evacuate. While they suffer loss, most of their loss is replaceable. The black family lives in the ninth ward, one of the poorest areas of New Orleans where many people do not have the means to evacuate. Their loss is tremendous and while it includes material possessions, it also includes lives that cannot be replaced.

I have to give major kudos to Piazza for writing such a strong, powerful, emotional book. Living in New Orleans, I get tired of reading so many books about Katrina, but Piazza just gets it right. He knows this city, he loves this city. I felt like he was one of us…he is one of us. It’s the best retelling of the events of Hurricane Katrina that I’ve read so far and it’s fiction. It’s certainly based on real events though. The timeline and the surroundings and neighborhoods are 100% accurate.

Many people were quick to judge those who stayed and lost their lives or suffered extreme loss saying that they should’ve left when they had the chance. The thing is, not everyone has the means to evacuate down here. And the city nor the federal government provides the means for the entire city to evacuate. There is also the fact that it can take over 24 hours to evacuate to a town that normally takes 4 hours to get to and the storms normally don’t even hit us. Most of us evacuate anyway, but that’s because we can. Piazza is a voice for our city. He gave an insider’s perspective, an advocate’s voice to those who can’t voice themselves. And I thank him for that. I hope he gets all the acclaim in the world for this book! He certainly deserves it.

If anyone wants an accurate picture of what Hurricane Katrina was like for those of us that experienced it, I urge you to read this book. My story is much like that of the white family’s story in this book, but there are others who were much less fortunate and are not here to blog about it. The fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is coming up in just two days and we will finally be moving back into our house in a couple of weeks. We’re blessed for that! Some people still haven’t been able to touch their houses.

On September 10th, Tom Piazza will be doing a talk show on Blog Talk Radio. I hope some of you check it out!! Here’s the link to the website. I’ve also submitted a request for a guest post from him and I hope to get that eventually!


11 Responses

  1. This sounds like an interesting book to read to get the real story of what actually happened. Living in England, we all sat in horror watching the events unfold on the television. We can only imagine the effects of the devastation to people’s lives. I imagine I would find this book upsetting, but it is probably one of those books that should be read.

  2. I just saw this in my library’s ‘New Books’ section, but I wasn’t sure about it. Now that it’s been endorsed by a native, though, I’ll look out for it next time!

  3. Wow..four years already. I’m really glad your house is almost ready, Chris. But yes, so much was lost that can’t be replaced 😦

  4. I’m glad to know that this is such an accurate depiction. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it!

  5. Knowing you’re endorsing this book has certainly put it on my wishlist, Chris! I truly don’t know what to say about a book like this, and the fact that it does touch you in such a personal way. Except to say that it must be pretty darned good for you to feel so strongly about it, even if it’s like to break a person’s heart to read. I agree with Vivienne that this sounds like one of those books that simply must be read.


  6. I’m curious: Have you read Dan Baum’s Nine Lives? I read this one too; my review will be up next week.

  7. It must be a really good book, with such a strong recommendation from someone who was there. I want to read it now, I’m adding it to my list of books to look for. I wonder if my library has it yet?

  8. It has always made me so angry to hear people blaming the folks who didn’t evacuate. How far do people think you can get with no car and $10 in your pocket because pay day isn’t until next week?!! I’m so happy to hear you say this book is getting it right. I can’t wait to get a hold of it.

  9. […] reviews: Chicken Spaghetti Stuff as Dreams are Made on Rough […]

  10. First, this is the best “I haven’t finished the book but here’s my review anyway” that I’ve ever read.

    Second, I think one of the highest honors you can bestow on a book is to say that the author got something right, and you should know because you’ve been in the situation. I think Piazza should be very proud right now. 🙂

  11. Just discovered your blog 🙂 I recently finished reading this book and loved it…Piazza’s voice is so authentic. Here is my review. Thanks for yours…and for the “insider” opinion on the novel too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: