Thelonious Rising


Over the hot tropical waters of West Africa a fitful breeze flung salt spray in the faces of fishermen. Storms are common in the Atlantic between June and November. Most weather disturbances falter and die, no sooner born than ended. Wind blowing from the east six miles high may collide with wind blowing from the opposite direction, creating a shear that will decapitate a storm and rip it apart before an eye can solidify. Warm waters fuel a hurricane, but cold ocean currents can destroy the system before it gains strength. For the moment, this particular disturbance has no name. Meteorologists say she is a tropical depression that should be watched, but five days east of Florida, with gale force winds, she is worthy of no more than a warning to seafaring ships. When winds reach hurricane force, they will dignify her with a name: Katrina. Nine-year-old Thelonious Monk DeCay lives in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward with his grandmother. His mother dead and his father missing, Monk is determined to find his father. With their harmonicas and bottle-cap taps, Monk and his best friend entertain the tourists in Jackson Square under the watchful eyes of eccentric historian Quinton Toussaint, who knows where to find Monk's father. Hurricane Katrina changes everything. Left homeless and alone after the storm, Monk befriends a deranged man and survives by sneaking across the rooftops and courtyards of the French Quarter, stealing food and supplies while hiding from both a murderer and the police. In the midst of the storm and its aftermath, a woman Monk has never met appears in New Orleans with answers to his questions about his long-lost father.