Wow. The narration is hypnotic. I’ve only listened to the first 30 minutes and may be glued to my ipod for the next few hours. Sisi Aisha Johnson has the perfect voice to narrate this book, set, as the title suggests, in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. She captures a whole range of voices–old and young, boys and girls, multiple accents–with such warmth I felt like they were walking next to me.
The novel follows Lanesha, a twelve-year-old orphan who lives with her guardian, Mama Ya-Ya, in New Orleans. From what I’ve heard so far, it seems that Lanesha can see ghosts. And according to online synopses, that will play a role later on when she has to survive Hurricane Katrina.
A full book review will come once I’ve finished. Right now I’m just blown away by how perfect it feels as an audiobook. It’s told from Lanesha’s perspective, and she spends the first few chapters (or tracks, rather) describing her life–how she became an orphan, her relationship with Mama Ya-Ya, the conditions in her neighborhood. It’s classic oral storytelling. There’s hardly any dialogue and tons of introspection, setting and evocative descriptions. Some of the lines that might look corny in print (“Oh Lanesha! Your mother and father made magic when they made you.”) work great when read aloud. I’m so hooked I can’t imagine reading the book in print. So I wonder–are there other books that work better in audio form? What about the reverse–books like The Invention of Hugo Cabret, to take an extreme example (I refuse to consider Wonderstruck), that would be quite hard to produce, or even Karen Hesse’s The Music of Dolphins, which plays with chapter lengths and different sized fonts.