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Riding Out The Hurricane

Riding Out The Hurricane

A children's book inspired by hurricane katrina.

Inspired by her life in New Orleans and her experiences in evacuation centres after Hurricane Katrina, Maeve Mc Mahon writes a powerful and moving fictional account of true events.

Available formats:
ebook (ePub edition)
ebook (Kindle edition)
ebook PDF

…a beautiful and compelling novel about faith, hope and love.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

About the Author

Maeve Mc Mahon

Maeve Mc Mahon

Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Maeve grew up in a devoutly Catholic family. From her early teens, she felt drawn to become a nun and on completion of her secondary education, she entered the Dominican Novitiate, destined to become a teaching Sister. In her mid-twenties, Maeve was sent on mission to teach African-American children in the Deep South of the United States. New Orleans became her home, where over the span of thirty years, she was a teacher, Principal and school founder, honoured in the White House as an outstanding educator, in 1990.

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina’s winds were wreaking havoc on her beloved city of adoption, Maeve was forced to evacuate with thousands of men, women and children. Her experience of homelessness during that time, teaching evacuee children in shelters and listening to heart wrenching stories of the part played by faith in survival, inspired her to write, ‘Riding Out The Hurricane,’ a powerful and moving fictional account of true events. At present, Maeve lives in a Dominican community in Dublin, Ireland. She continues to enjoy writing articles for religious magazines, working on her third book and tutoring disadvantaged young men and women who dream of gaining access to college and acquiring a degree.




Endorsements and Reviews

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“…a beautiful and compelling novel about faith, hope and love … when Hurricane Katrina’s carnage was matched by heroism and human compassion…”



Alison O’Riordan, Irish Central
“The powerful and moving book of true events is written to let people know that even in the worst of times, good can come out of it and not to lose faith.”

Alison O’Riordan
Irish Central

Marigny Dupuis, New Orleans Times Picayune
“‘Riding Out the Hurricane’ by Maeve McMahon … has much in common with ‘Ninth Ward’ – here is another 12-year-old girl living in the 9th Ward with an older woman during the period just before, during and after Katrina. However, just as each of us has a distinctive Katrina story, these two books with similar characters and settings play out quite differently.
Jade Williams lives in a shotgun double with her grandmother, who has worked at Zack’s Seafood Restaurant for 35 years. Their next-door neighbor, Mary Lou, is 82 years old and takes care of Jade when her grandmother works late. Jade (like Lanesha) never knew her father or her mother, who died when she was born. But her life with her grandmother is good, and Jade loves school and has a best friend called Natasha.
What makes ‘Riding Out the Hurricane’ special, certainly for people who went through the storm, is the author’s attention to detail. Starting with Jade and Grandma’s trip to Wal-Mart to buy supplies two days before the storm and then to the storm itself and their harrowing rooftop rescue from the floor (along with Mary Lou and a dog named Bunty), it all rings true. Then as the ordeal of evacuation unfolds, first in the Convention Center downtown, then in the Astrodome in Houston, then in a rent apartment near Baton Rouge, and finally in a FEMA trailer, it accurately reflects the saga of so many displaced New Orleanians. Although it’s a story we recognize, the author has shaped it in such a way and created such endearing characters in Jade, Grandma, Mary Lou and Bunty that it feels fresh and compelling.
There is an inspiration spiritual aspect to this story, as well. While not religious in any literal way, the characters repeatedly give themselves over the God’s hands, particularly when things are most dire. Grandma has a refrain that keeps them strong as well: “Where one goes, the three of us go.” The ending of the story is bittersweet, but Jade has grown so much during the ordeal that she has the strength to handle whatever life throws her way. This is a tale not soon to be forgotten.
The author, Maeve McMahon, taught in New Orleans for 27 years and evacuated right before the storm. She spent the following months working in evacuations centers, gathering firsthand stories for the book that she eventually wrote…”

Marigny Dupuis
New Orleans Times Picayune

Moya Nulty, Teacher, St Brigid's Primary School, Dublin
“Finding a suitable class novel can be difficult at times. I have recently finished … Riding Out the Hurricane by Irish author, Maeve McMahon. Set in New Orleans, this is a powerfully evocative story which brings the tragedy of Hurrican Katrina to life and was described by my fifth class as a real ‘page turner’. If offered us many opportunities for cross-curricular work, encompassing English, geography, SPHE and art. There is further potential for linkages with music, history and science.
The author taught in New Orleans for 27 years and was there when Hurrican Katrina struck in 2005. She evacuated right before the storm but spent the following months working in evacuation centres and so has first-hand knowledge of the events as they unfolded.
What makes Riding Out the Hurricane special is the author’s attention to detail. It tells the story of a 12-year-old girl, Jade Williams, who lives with her grandmother. The story starts with Jade and her grandmother’s trip to buy supplies two days before the storm and then recounts their harrowing rooftop rescue from the rising flood waters (along with their 82-year-old neighbour, Mary Lou). As the ordeal of the evacuation unfolds, the story reflects the saga of so many displaced people in New Orleans.
Although set in New Orleans the novel has an appeal for Irish children. It is a very human tragic story which happened in one of the richest, most powerful countries in the world. It is a story of hardship and endurance but also remarkable growth, particularly in the young Jade.”
Moya Nulty, Teacher
St Brigid’s Primary School, Dublin
Mary Esther Judy, Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, Galway, Ireland

“Jade Williams is an ordinary 12-year-old girl living with her grandmother in New Orleans poorer quarters in 2005. She is kind, caring, sometimes stroppy and busy with school and her friends. On August 29, her world is ripped apart when Hurricane Katrina hits the city, destroying the city and leaving incredible tragedy in its’ wake. Jade, her grandmother and their elderly neighbour, Mary Lou, survive by climbing onto the roof. Jade must find the inner strength to survive and protect her grandmother, Mary Lou and the little dog, Bunty, she rescues from a bridge during the aftermath. But the journey to safety takes Jade places she never thought she’d go. And ‘home’ becomes a foreign land that she may never see again.
McMahon gives us a vivid, dramatic picture of the aftermath of one of the most pivotal environmental events in recent history as seen through the eyes of a young survivor. With an accurate, genuine voice, the story is told with compassion, gently giving insight into the traumatic situations faced by thousands of children at the time. Jade is a believable character and her inner thoughts, fears and frustrations pull the reader into her life, riveting us to the page. This detailed account of the devastation and determination of the human spirit is expressed in clear language and storytelling, relaying an exceptional tale of faith and human endurance at a time when it is easy to lose all hope, to give up. And yet, there is humour and light-heartedness, which makes this book a compelling and, ultimately uplifting read with much to think about. McMahon was living and working in New Orleans at the time, and her experiences there add an insight that one could not possibly express without having lived through it. Winner of the Nautilus Award, Riding Out The Hurricane tackles big issues, such as racism, displacement, poverty and environmental catastrophe in an accessible way, as well as being a beautiful read. Ages 10+”
Mary Esther Judy
Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, Galway, Ireland

McMahon gives us a vivid, dramatic picture of the aftermath of one of the most pivotal environmental events in recent history.

Mary Esther Judy

Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, Galway, Ireland




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