Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach, by Brenda Woods

I've always been a sucker for novels about New Orleans, but haven't read one in a while. This short novel by Brenda Woods gave me my New Orleans fix.
Saint Louis Armstrong Beach is not a beach, as the main character will tell you, but is his name. Coming from a long line of New Orleanians, he's named after jazz musician Louis Armstrong and his grandfather, King Daddy Saint. The author pulls you right into New Orleans's flair, and paints a vivid picture of what life in New Orleans is like, specifically in the section called Treme. 

The novel's namesake, Saint, is a young street musician who plays to make enough money to buy a new clarinet. He has a faithful sidekick, a dog named Shadow, who follows him everywhere. This dog isn't actually his, but belongs to the whole neighborhood. However, Saint is Shadow's favorite. So, when Katrina threatens and families start evacuating, Saint is determined to see Shadow to safety. Shadow is a free-spirit, a true New Orleanian, and isn't so willing to be caught. So, Saint winds up getting separated from his family and staying behind to brave out the storm with his neighbor, Miz Moran. 

In reading this book, I truly felt like I was in New Orleans, and experiencing everything right along with the characters. I was pulled in right from the first page, which began like this: 

"One thing I know for sure is that most important stuff comes in more than one part. Things like skateboards, bicycles, computers, houses, cars, and life. Life is made out of this invisible thing called time that we watch disappear into weeks, years that we track like bloodhounds or K-9 dogs, and centuries that move so slow they may as well be standing still,: (1). 

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