Review of The Hurricane Girls

The Hurricane Girls The Hurricane Girls
by Kimberly Willis Holt
Intermediate, Middle School    Ottaviano/Little, Brown    288 pp.
8/23    9780316326094    $16.99
e-book ed.  9780316326285    $9.99

During their first year attending middle school in New Orleans, Greer, Joya Mia, and Kiki become inseparable friends when they collaborate on a project interviewing neighbors and family members about the impact of Hurricane Katrina. A year later, that friendship appears to fade as Greer withdraws, blaming herself for her sister’s disabling accident; the girls “were like a tricycle with one loose wheel.” Kiki, ever the one with the big (but often haphazard) ideas, decides that to rebuild the friendship the three should participate in a local relay triathlon, even though they are ill-equipped to compete: Joya Mia, the designated cyclist, rides a rusty old two-wheeler; Kiki, the swimmer, needs to learn how; and Greer, the track star, has given up running. Although the race, and preparations for it, provide the novel’s main arc, it is the girls’ slowly deepening understanding of themselves that gives this book its heart. Like their rebuilt city, this friendship cannot reconstitute as an exact replica of what they had before. The simple passage of time generates new circumstances; family relationships mature and new friends expand the boundaries of their once-exclusive group, resulting in thoughtful self-examination. Holt takes time developing these characters, allowing readers to see both their individual and collective growth in this appealing and sensitive novel.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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