Nowhere Better Than Here

Roaring Brook. Sept. 2022. 256p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250824264.
Gr 4-7–Thirteen-year-old Jillian Robichaux adores her small southern Louisiana town, where she lives with her mama and Nonnie. When a storm with no name brings too much rain, homes and businesses in Boutin flood and the school is badly damaged. Jillian and her classmates are sent by bus to another school 40 miles inland. To make matters even more complicated, Jillian’s mostly absent, less-than-dependable dad is sleeping on the couch temporarily. As she learns about Louisiana’s coastal erosion problem, Jillian becomes determined to save her hometown, throwing herself into a huge petition and a time-consuming history project—but she can’t shake the feeling that home will never be the same again. This lovingly rendered, authentic portrayal of the people and culture of south Lousiana illustrates an ecological concept that may be unfamiliar to readers outside the state. Compelling, intelligent characters and opportunities for learning that don’t read like a textbook combine for a valuable, unique story exploring the way the landscape and environment are deeply embedded in the lives and hearts of those from the Louisiana coastline. Cajun dialect and colloquialisms and vivid descriptions of the setting add to the narrative’s strong sense of place. Middle grade readers will identify with Jillian’s struggle to find a way to accept things that are beyond her control while still working to create meaningful change. All main characters are white.
VERDICT A poignant and emotional exploration of a people and place worth preserving. Recommended for all collections serving young people.

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