Subtitled “A Katrina Story”, author Jared Andrukanis’ “A Rooftop Above Reality” can not instantly evoke emotions of sadness and anger. Sadness about the conditions that many had to survive before getting any help, and anger at the wait until said help was received. But before those emotions are realized within Andrukanis’ natural and melodic prose, there is an underlying theme of hope that cannot be ignored. It is this affecting human buoyancy that stayed with me after I read the last word of the novel, and it is this hope that allowed me to learn more about a disaster and the power of resilience.
The novel finds a few close friends and their furry companions endure the first few days after Hurricane Katrina and their attempts at survival. They’re surrounded by water, and must adapt to ensure that they will be alive when help finally does arrive, however long that may take. The dynamic of these friends change and evolve as they are presented with situations they never imagined they would find themselves in, and their patience is often tested in the name of survival.
As the story progresses (and isn’t every memoir a story of sorts?), the actual setting of a devastated New Orleans in the aftermath of a natural disaster almost becomes secondary to the unfolding of events befalling this crew of survivors. The author here shines in writing about how humans can survive in a world without any kind of media updates or assurance that they will indeed be saved. It’s an importance piece, and indeed a very telling one, about the human condition in the face of disaster, and how one’s will can be stronger than the cumulative power of 1,000 armies.