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Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Happy Superbowl Sunday, readers.  As a Chargers fan, I’m used to my football season ending long before February – so today seems like the perfect day to curl up with a good book (and catch up on my backlog of blog posts)!  I hope you’re all warm and cozy wherever and however you choose to celebrate today!

Over the winter holiday from work, I had a chance to read books that I was not about to teach to students – and it was fabulous!  I’ve been back at work for about a month, but I’m still trying to fit in small amounts of “for fun” reading when I can.  The first book I read on vacation was Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.  It’s an account of a Syrian man’s experiences during Hurricane Katrina – nonfiction and completely moving.  The genre isn’t one I read very often, but Dave Eggers is such a fantastic and highly recommended author, that I knew I had to try it.  I actually purchased the book as a Christmas gift… and then had to read it myself before I could give it away!

Zeitoun is like two stories at once – the first, a matter-of-fact account of one family during the approach and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  It’s impossible to read this without feeling the fear and frustration that must have been experienced by so many families in New Orleans at the time.  Eggers captures the chaos of the disaster without being overly dramatic, which I appreciated.  The second half of the book is dedicated to the patriarch of the family, Zeitoun.  A good Samaritan, he travels around his neighborhood in a canoe, helping neighbors and strangers alike.  But then, he is arrested, and the remainder of the story follows an aspect of the post-Hurricane Katrina chaos that wasn’t as widely publicized.  It will break your heart, enrage you, and, most importantly, inform you.  I loved it!

To be perfectly honest, I’m not usually a big fan of nonfiction.  This book is absolutely an exception.  It’s captivating and smart – I know you’ll love it as much as I did!  I give this book 3 stars – I doubt I’ll read it again, but I’d recommend it to just about anyone! ★★★

 

Note: Since Zeitoun was published (in 2009) the Zeitouns have divorced and faced some legal troubles relating to their split.  Though this information does slightly damper my enthusiasm for this book, it shouldn’t take away from the well-written, shocking account of a man’s experiences.

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