Posted in 2014-2015 Club, Not Mock Newbery

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere, by Julie Lamana

Upside Down in the Middle of NowhereSummary:  At the end of August 2005, ten-year-old Armani is looking forward to her birthday party in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where she and her extended family live, but Hurricane Katrina is on the way, bringing destruction and tragedy in its wake.

Chronicle Books

Find it at WCPL

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8 thoughts on “Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere, by Julie Lamana

  1. Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere is a wonderfully written book. The writing style is well suited to the plot, and it is very detailed without being too confusing. Julie T. Lamana was also able to inform the reader of several subjects not often addressed in books. She discusses modern-day racial discrimination, death, and the living conditions of natural disaster refugees. The way that Julie T. Lamana talks about these subjects is very real, but also very beautiful. She takes each subject and shows the damage it can do and the pain it can cause, and then she shows people who rise from those situations and become better people in the process. Ms. Lamana was able to teach the reader life lessons and entertain them at the same time(a pretty remarkable feat!)and I applaud her for that. And somewhere in that beautiful book, Ms. Lamana was able to develop each of her characters so that they all either became stronger or they showed strength that they didn’t know that they had. I am so glad that one of the first books I picked out was this good!

  2. I think that upside down in the middle of Nowhere is a very well written book. I think the theme of the story was very well detailed but not confusing. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a heartfelt and inspiring book.

  3. Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere is one of my favorite books this year, and every criteria in it was very distinguished. The book begins with Armani thinking about nothing except her upcoming tenth birthday. However, for other people, her birthday is not their main concern but the weather is. There are threats of a hurricane and for people living in New Orleans, this is very serious. I loved how the author filled the first chapters with loads of subtle foreshadowing so that you felt something bad was approaching and yet to you, like Armani, it didn’t feel quite real. In every scene in the beginning chapters, there is at least one mention of the sky, or the wind, or the hurricane itself creating an image in the back of your mind of the approaching storm, but at the same time, it didn’t seem like the author was trying to force you to be afraid. Through the writing style, the author is able to make the fear come naturally. In the same way, I loved how Armani wasn’t some innocent girl with a storm thrust upon her turning her into a brave heroine, but that she was a nine year old girl whose self centeredness partially was the cause of her family staying for the storm. Although this sounds as if Armani is some bratty character nobody can relate to, she was, in fact, actually one of the best parts of the story with her opinionated voice and realistic imperfections. I connected more to her with her selfishness, annoyance at siblings, and guilt than if she hadn’t had any flaws; it made the story more realistic and memorable. I also loved the way the author described Armani’s large family. Every one of her siblings had a story and a voice, and I could feel the love her parents had for each other. With every loss of her family, I too felt their pain. The setting was unique to say the least. The author did an amazing job creating a visual transition from a small happy town, to a destroyed place filled with heartbroken survivors. The scene with Armani’s school bus upside down after the waters subsided was to me, one of the most memorable images. The ending was heartbreaking and beautiful, confirming that Julie Lamana had written a Newbery worthy book. This is definitely one of my choices for our Mock Newbery Award and I would recommend it to ages ten through fourteen looking for a touching and well written book or wanting to learn more on hurricane Katrina. Like Ellie said, the author described all the issues this book dealt with in a very accurate way and by reading this book, the person will develop a very clear picture of what it is like to live through a hurricane.

  4. This book was very lovely and a great read. This book had a lot of criteria that was carried out well. You could understand all the characters. At first, Armani just cared about her birthday and if they would celebrate it even though there were a lot of warnings of a storm. Then the storm came and Armani had to find her strength and hope. This book also had a great setting because you find the pain and sorrow of the storm, but the hope too. For example, in the house it was very frightening, but when they looked outside there was a sunset. The theme of this book was probably hope. I would suggest this book from 10 and up. This book is definitely worth a read.

  5. When I first read Upside Down In The Middle Of Nowhere, I was shocked in a good way. In every way, this book was distinguished, and it was most definitely a Newbery Award Winner in my opinion. Everyone else has already said what I would say, so the only thing I can add is that the theme is either hope or one that I heard a while ago, which was:

    “Sometimes you have to go through a lot of loss to find where you really belong.”

    Also, I recommend this book for ages 10-11 up, and
    I hope others read it and find it as amazing as the rest of us.

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