This is a two in one post- Saint Louis Armstrong Beach and The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond are my last two reads; both are by Brenda Woods.
Saint Louis Armstrong Beach is Saint’s story of the time building up to and during Hurricane Katrina. Saint is an extremely enterprising kid (I think 11 year old?). He plays his clarinet along the Louisiana streets to make money and is saving for a new clarinet. He is an outgoing, helpful and extremely likable character. The book gets quite dramatic when Saint ditches his uncle and cousins to find his dog Shadow. He heads back to his home (even though the area has been evacuated). He ends up finding the dog and needing to weather the storm with an elderly neighbor, Ms. Moran. The storm descriptions are intense and the drama continues as Ms. Moran is diabetic and needs medical attention. Luckily, they are whisked away by helicopter in time. Saint is reunited with his parents at the end. They are so happy that he is okay that he seemingly gets away with everything.
The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond was my preference between the two. Violet is an innocent, and also outgoing eleven year old. She is not as street savvy as Saint. She is a biracial girl in a town that is primarily white. Her older half sister (different father) is a beautiful white girl. Violet questions herself and how she fits in. She has no connections to her African roots because her dad died when she was young and his family has no contact with her mom (or her). Until she reaches out to her grandmother. She is able to spend a couple weeks with her artist grandmother in California and learns more about her dad and herself in the process. This book has many deep, thoughtful points for a younger reader. Race is definitely one of these points, plus so much more. Family, life and death, forgiveness, understanding oneself, being inquisitive about one’s roots. I loved it.