Hurricane: My Story of Resilience

Norton. (I, Witness: Bk. 2). Aug. 2021. 112p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781324016656.
Gr 4-8–With only two days’ warning, 15-year-old Salvador Gómez-Cólon and his family prepared for the onslaught of Hurricane Maria in 2017. The destruction to Puerto Rico was unprecedented and unremitting. In response to the desolation around him, Gómez-Cólon started a campaign called Light and Hope, distributing solar lamps and hand-powered washing machines to people without power and running water. His descriptions of the storm and its emotional impact evoke urgency and immediacy, all while written in a style highly accessible to a wide range of readers. His account highlights the deep compassion and empathy pushing the young man, and is likely to provoke similar feelings in readers. The driving message is the potential for young people to enact change, even in seemingly hopeless situations. It is an empowering and optimistic call to action for a generation frequently bombarded by strife and negativity. Gómez-Cólon makes clear in his narrative and in the lengthy acknowledgments that he relied on a network of volunteers and invested adults to put his goals into action. He also demonstrates the negative impact that waning media coverage, bureaucratic red tape, and failing infrastructure had on his campaign. This clear review of his experience, along with a “Get Involved” section of tips for young people to address climate change, makes the impact of youth on the world feel tangible and powerful.
VERDICT With a harrowing tale of survival and an inspiring tale of altruism, this accessible narrative would enhance any nonfiction collection. Recommended for first purchase.

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