The Hurricanes: One High School Team’s Homecoming After Katrina
by: Jere' Longman
Published by: Public Affairs Books
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Reviewed by Claire Vath
In late August 2005, like many others, I watched from afar as the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coasts bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina’s wrath. Less than two months later, I drove and walked through those same places in New Orleans I’d seen on the news, noting the spray painted numbers on houses, the carnage and the holes in roofs, where residents gasped for life. Perhaps the most somber message was a dust-covered car with the words “There is no life here” etched matter-of-factly into the Delta soils that shrouded it.
Most of the news coverage centered around New Orleans, but other areas were hit worse. Bestselling author Jere’ Longman’s fantastic new book, The Hurricanes: One High School Teams Homecoming After Katrina focuses on lower Plaquemines Parish. Anyone who lives in south Louisiana knows the area for its fishing; what Plaquemines Parish is not known for is its football—until now.
For two seasons, Jere’ Longman followed the Hurricanes, a patchwork team of kids who came together from the three devastated area schools to play football under the tutelage of Coach Cyril Crutchfield. The hardened high school coach rode out the storm in his school’s gym—while working out game plays, no less.
In the aftermath of the storm, Crutchfield’s voraciousness for football was unwavering. One thing that inextricably linked each player: the devastating events in summer 2005. The author does a phenomenal job of portraying struggles of the players and their families—both on the field and in their FEMA trailers.
The Hurricanes is a story of grit, strength, racial boundaries and sheer determination as this ragtag team bands together in the face of adversity. Until you walk a mile through a hurricane-ravaged area, you don’t really have an accurate picture of the havoc that’s been wreaked on lives. Longman’s book comes pretty close to walking that mile. Rarely does someone capture the nuances and spirit of a community so eloquently and with such great heart as Longman has. Because, rest assured, while the book focuses on a football team, the message has nothing to do with sports.
Armchair Interviews says: This author tells such this story in such a personal way every reader will be moved.
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