I can pinpoint the exact moment I became obsessed with natural disaster movies and books. I was 10 years old when the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit San Francisco. One second I was sitting down getting ready to watch the World Series and the next moment I was running for a doorway while our house shook and groaned. Since then I’ve always been drawn to disaster stories, similar to Lauren Tarshin’s I Survived The Galveston Hurricane book. Read on for a full book review of I Survived Galveston Hurricane by Lauren Tarshis.
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In I Survived the Galveston Hurricane, a young boy named Charlie Miller experiences what can be described as one of the most devastating hurricanes in Texas history. The year is 1900 and in Galveston, Charlie’s biggest worry is his arch-enemy Gordon Potts. Gordon is a bully and goes out of his way to make Charlie miserable. On a stormy afternoon, Charlie plots to get back at Gordon when something about the latest storm seems….off. While Galveston had flooded before the collective thinking was that an actual hurricane would never travel so far and reach the town so initially Charlie isn’t super concerned about the storm.
When a hurricane hits later that day Charlie witnesses a horrifying scene. He is trapped in flood waters and scared that he may never see his family again. The waves completely level the town and with 8,000 people missing, Charlie finds an ally in the person he least expects to.
Tarshis does a great job of explaining why the community was so ambivalent to hurricanes even though they literally lived in an area surrounded by water. The majority of people didn’t experience the last hurricane years before so there wasn’t a concern regarding hurricanes. In fact, what’s shocking is that as the waves started to crash onto the beach, people gathered around and cheered.
The excitement in I Survived The Galveston Hurricane builds when Charlie’s family makes their way to Gordon’s house since it’s on higher ground. This particular moment is a good example of people not being prepared and thinking they are safe but really, they end up being in the worst possible place.
Charlie’s fight for survival is captivating, especially with the descriptions of how much damage the churning water does to him.
Like most of Tarshin’s other novels, the last few chapters of I Survived The Galveston Hurricane show photos and share facts about the actual hurricane which is critical to understanding the setting. While this is a fictional account, Tarshis gives a realistic setting and the view of a massive natural disaster through the eyes of a young child.
Rating: 4/5 stars
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