06.11.10

La Nouvelle Orleans

Posted in Favorite Books, Geography at 8:41 pm by Janet

Ooh, look what the cat dragged into the Tarts Wardrobe! It’s me, and tarts, I have not forgotten about you. I have just been very busy. Among other things, I’ve been on the road. Last month Lucianonymous and I drove down to New Orleans. New Orleans is like no other place I’ve been. Is it France? Is it the Caribbean? Is it the USA? All of the above? We mostly stayed around the French Quarter, but we did take  a detour when we got lost coming back from Tulane. Business was booming in the French Quarter, but you could definitely still see the effects of Katrina–bad roads, boarded up houses.  I narrowly avoided having a voodoo hex put on me when I skipped out of a mini lecture at the Voodoo Spiritual Temple to rescue L from standing interminably on the sidewalk.  We wandered around a cemetery (the one in Easy Rider). We took a drive through the Garden District. The whole place was fascinating to me.

What am I getting at? After I got back I had to reread Ruined by Paula Morris. I read this book this winter, and it had me glued to the couch. The same thing happened the second time around, except that this time I had actually seen some of the places mentioned in the book and the story seemed so much more vivid. Anyhow, it’s about a New York teen named Rebecca who’s suddenly shipped off to New Orleans to live with an old family friend. An outsider in her very stodgy and traditional private school, Rebecca has to look elsewhere to find friends.  She meets Lisette in the cemetery across the street from her house. Turns out Lisette is a ghost. Lisette introduces Rebecca to New Orleans’s history, with its complicated race relations and class structure. Rebecca soon finds out that New Orleans’s history is, well, not history at all. Lisette is connected to an old voodoo curse on the family of Rebecca’s  snootiest schoolmate, and Rebecca herself may have a part to play in the curse. There’s a cute boy and a dramatic ending and lots of Mardi Gras beads. Morris does a does a great job of creating a sense of place and giving an overview of the history and culture of New Orleans. Plus it’s a riveting story.

So…if I can’t make it back for Mardi Gras, I’ll just read Ruined. You should read it, too.

Tomb of voodoo queen Marie Laveau

Tomb of voodoo queen Marie Laveau

Commander's Palace, mentioned in the book

Commander's Palace, mentioned in the book

1 Comment »

  1. Bridget said,

    July 9, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I was also hooked by Ruined. It has that slightly sinister, creepy, but fascinating edge that makes it a great gothic teen book.
    I was just reading about this Crawdad Festival somewhere near Portland that was cursed by a Louisiana Voodoo Queen 50 years ago, but that has somehow survived the curse (so far anyway). Still, I don’t think it’s going to make my agenda. The last thing I need is to get involved in a curse I have no business being a part of. I don’t even think I like crawdads.
    And on an even less related note, we went to VooDoo Donuts for the first time today. Barrett is making tea and coffee to go with our haul AS WE SPEAK.

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