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House on First Street: Chapters 1-8…

May 21, 2011

I’m not sure I could be more behind on this month’s book club book, House on First Street by Julia Reed, but I am really enjoying it and wanted to get thoughts out on them. (I also have apparently been extremely slack with the posting this week for no reason – oops!)

This is a tiny book and it’s been really easy to carry it around in my beach bag and read it in short spurts on the weekend.

The general gist of the book is that the author, Julia Reed, grew up in the south and after living in New York City she wound up in New Orleans. Not to give the story away but she ends up getting married and finding a dream house in the Garden District. They start all the painstaking renovations right as hurricane Katrina is on it’s way.

Onto the questions…

1. Have you visited New Orleans before? Do you think a visit to the city is necessary to connect to this book?

I have visited a few times, most recently in 2009. So I have been before Katrina and after, bot were great experiences and actually very similar. I don’t think you need to have been before to read the book but I do think an understanding of the city is good.

We weren’t really sure what to expect when we went the summer of 2009 but were really happy to see so much re-building happening and see some tourists back in the city.

2. What are your thoughts on Julia’s writing style? Do you like the way she tells stories?

I have enjoyed her writing style because I feel like she is talking to me. It makes sense that she is a magazine article write first because that’s how this book reads. I feel like I know exactly what and who she’s talking about and I was able to jump right into her story and life.

3. To me Julia took a laid back approach to the evacuation warnings and even devastation. What was your reaction to her approach? How do you think you would have handled a flood of such proportions?

As someone who grew up at the beach and have gone through many hurricanes, I have never evacuated.  With that in mind I completely understood where she was coming from. I can’t imagine that I will evacuate in the future unless I live ON the beach, and even then I’d probably just move inland a little.

It’s hard to explain this to someone who’s never been through one, or who only knows what the news shows them of the devastation but I know when I was younger the biggest thing I worried about was being out of power – or worse: BORED. I think as an adult I would feel so connected to my house and my belongings that you would have a tough time telling me to leave.

I also hope that with understanding where New Orleans went wrong with Katrina will help other cities – like mine- plan to prevent the awful aftermath. I also hope that when it’s time to buy our house we are above sea level and have flood insurance too :)

4. Julia instantly was solicited by her editors to do pieces on the disaster. Do you think she gave an accurate portrayal?

I am not surprised that her editors contacted her so quickly but I am curious as to what she wrote about since she hadn’t even been back yet. But I’m interested to see what articles she actually wrote and what the outcome of her house is.


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