Skip to main content
PBS logo
Want fewer ads?

Search - City of Refuge: A Novel

City of Refuge: A Novel
City of Refuge A Novel
Author: Tom Piazza
In the heat of late summer, two New Orleans families--one black and one white--confront a storm that will change the course of their lives. SJ Williams, a carpenter and widower, lives and works in the Lower Ninth Ward, the community where he was born and raised. His sister, Lucy, is a soulful mess, and SJ has been trying to keep her son, Wesley...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780061238611
ISBN-10: 0061238619
Publication Date: 9/1/2008
Pages: 416
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.

4.2 stars, based on 10 ratings
Publisher: Harper
Book Type: Hardcover
Members Wishing: 2
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed City of Refuge: A Novel on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Even though this is 'fiction,' a 'novel,' Mr. Piazza, the author, has developed deeply a heart wrenching, insightful, passionate, and highly descriptive narrative of the time Before hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, then following the 'what happened' after its devastation.
The book is a real 'page turner,' i.e. I could hardly put it down, reading it entirely over 3 days, most unusual for me. I finished the book being all the wiser for the depth of insight provided by the author because he wrote it based on the facts of the devastation; and his passion for writing the 'life stories' of the 2 families was stellar.
Read All 4 Book Reviews of "City of Refuge A Novel"

Please Log in to Rate these Book Reviews

reviewed City of Refuge: A Novel on + 412 more book reviews
The story of two families in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As an ex-pat New Orleanian, I can definitely say that the author got it just right in his depiction of New Orleans,both the good and the bad. A great read.
reviewed City of Refuge: A Novel on + 76 more book reviews
fabulous well-written story of two families trying to survive during katrina. read this book!
24girl avatar reviewed City of Refuge: A Novel on + 42 more book reviews
With 1,836 lives lost due to the hurricane and subsequent flooding, Hurricane Katrina was one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States and the costliest in terms of property damage. City of Refuge is the story of how the hurricane affects two very different families living in New Orleans.

SJ Williams, his sister Lucy and her son Wesley were all born and raised in the Lower Ninth Ward. New Orleans is their place and they are proud to have made lives there. The widowed SJ owns his own carpentry and repair business, loves to read and cook while watching over his family. Lucy struggles with drug and alcohol dependence while scraping by working odd jobs where she could find them. Nineteen year old Wesley is at the point in his life where hes no longer a boy but not yet a man. He feels smothered by his Uncle SJs subtle pressure to become more than just another thug in the neighborhood.

Craig Donaldson is married with two small children. He and his wife Alice are both New Orleans transplants. Nobody had ever had more of a crush on New Orleans than Craig. As editor of Gumbo Magazine he reveled in the rich musical history and the characters found in neighborhoods throughout the city. However more and more lately his wife is feeling a restlessness coming from giving up her own painting and teaching career to the increasing violence and decaying infrastructure of the public school system. Now once again faced with packing up and evacuating the kids Alice is more convinced than ever that its time to leave New Orleans and doesnt hesitate to make this clear to Craig.

From a few days before the hurricane to first Mardi Gras celebration six months after the devastation Piazza documents the lives of both families with raw emotion and genuine feeling. During the first night of the storm SJ is prowling the house checking rooms sealed up like tombs to the raging outdoors and you can feel the worry coming off the pages. While staying with relatives in Chicago, Alice has made the decision that Craig himself cant come to terms with. Its time to leave New Orleans and make a new life for their family. You get a true sense of Alices need to protect her family while still feeling the anguish thats pulling Craig in two directions.

The book is a true homage to the authors love of the city and I enjoyed getting to know these characters and be a part of their lives. I would recommend this book to book clubs who will have much to discuss about the book, the city and social differences of the characters.


Want fewer ads?