Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Book Review: Landfall by Ellen Urbani
Rosy and her mother are in New Orleans's Lower Ninth Ward when Katrina hits. A friend nearby has a brick house where they think they can wait out the storm but as we all now know, that was a terrible idea. Rose and her mother see the news about Katrina and, several days later, are driving to make a donation for the hurricane victims when their lives cross with Rosy's in a devastating way. Rose then sets out on a quest for the truth and for the past which takes her across three states and she uncovers a story neither she nor Rosy had ever expected.
The descriptions of the hurricane and the flood itself were very visceral. They felt completely real in a horrible and immersive way. You really felt like you were there. But those parts were also, naturally, harder to read as it was such a wretched situation and so fraught with danger. Also Rosy's mother is bipolar and the stories about her again made me uncomfortable and sad. At first I didn't like Rose as much as she didn't have as much going on and therefore didn't come alive the way Rosy did. But as the book went on and the action shifted to being mostly from Rose's perspective, you got to see her also become a three-dimensional young woman, struggling with a difficult situation. The dual-perspectives worked very well as did the non-matching timeframes in a way I wouldn't have expected to work.
I had some minor issues with a few details that didn't feel correct for me, and I guessed the big twist pretty early on. If I hadn't had the issues with it being too depressing, this book would have benefited from a straight-read-through (or nearly so). Instead, I read it in small bits over nearly a week, which did not improve matters. It kept me distanced from the characters and therefore more critical and not as emotionally involved. But I really think that was due to where I was in my head when I was reading it, not the fault of the book itself. I don't want it to sound like I didn't enjoy it, because I did. But it was the wrong book at the wrong time for me, sadly.
I bought this book at Park Road Books.