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Babylon Rolling    by Amanda Boyden order for
Babylon Rolling
by Amanda Boyden
Order:  USA  Can
Pantheon, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

Babylon Rolling is the story of five families on an uptown street in New Orleans. It is the summer of 2004 and Orchid Street is sweltering under the sun and humidity. Hurricane Ivan is on its way and Katrina is still a year in the future.

Daniel Harris, nicknamed Fearius, is a fifteen year old black boy, just out of jail. He lives with his parents and siblings but finds life on the streets exciting and powerful. He is trying to establish a drug trade in the neighbourhood and is often carrying a piece. Ed Flank, his wife Ariel and their two children are a middle class white family from Minneapolis. They came South to escape the cold winters and like the diversity of the city. Ed is a stay-at-home Dad while Ariel manages a large local hotel. Ariel soon finds herself immersed in the work force gossip and struggling to keep her family intact.

The Guptas are new to the block. They are East Indian and well educated, both working at the local university. They bring a sense of elegance to the neighbourhood, living in the largest house on the street. A caring couple, they are always ready to help their friends. Cerise Brown, a black woman in her seventies, has time to sit and observe her neighbours from her front porch. She also has time to re-think her life's choices and feels she is no longer in control of her own destiny. Philomena Beauregard de Burges, or Prancie, as she calls herself, is a white woman in her mid fifties. Her husband Joe is dying of cancer but she is at peace with this as she has had enough of his philandering ways. Upset with the bar owner across the street and with the wild crowd the bar attracts, Prancie wants to clean up the neighbourhood.

Babylon Rolling is narrated by five different voices. They all have hopes and dreams and want to be accepted. It is a story of people living their daily lives - all on a crash course with each other that is out of control. This is a powerful story that will stay with you long after you have finished reading.

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