30. Ruined – Paula Morris
I definitely count Ruined as one of my favorite young adult books. It’s a New Orleans ghost story that provides some history and very helpful information about what the deal with the Krewes is instead of well-worn New Orleans tropes. Morris did not rely on the enchanting nature of the city or some of its people to propel her story and does not talk down to her audience or expect them to just go along with anything due to the inherent enchantment possibilities. Like I’ve said before, I love New Orleans, but it has some very, very well-worn tropes about how magical it is and a city cannot get by on those alone; especially not when some of the coolest places in the city have disappeared, been replaced by a suit store, and then there’s the card reader who constantly checks his phone – he is not projecting an air of mystery, my future cannot be found on the internet. And sometimes it seems like people under the influence of those tropes decide they don’t have to pay attention to traffic signals because they are going to Café Du Monde. Um, there’s a walk signal. Look for it. It’s where it is everywhere else in the US and yes, you do have to pay attention to it because I will not feel bad about running you over on my way to the street I park on. I don’t care if you’re different there.
Anyway, Ruined also helped me out with my goal of wandering through one of the cemeteries (the walking tours don’t usually comply with my schedule or goals while I’m there) in a manageable fashion. The Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is right next to Commander’s Palace (a restaurant I will probably never eat at for a variety of reasons like poorness and an abhorrence of seafood) and the Garden District Book Shop. I’m really surprised that I didn’t notice the walled cemetery across the street the first time I went to New Orleans as a kid looking for signed Anne Rice novels. It’s a fine example of cemetery architecture and has a nice tomb for destitute orphan boys where people have offered action figures and I think that’s nice.