Nine-year-old Thelonious Monk DeCay is a tapdancer and harmonica player in Jackson Square, New Orleans. With taps made from Coca Cola bottle caps and his natural charisma, Monk earns money and delights tourists. Secretly, he is saving for the day when he will go in search of his father, a brilliant jazz pianist who has been missing since Monk was three.
Some say that Dean DeCay is dead, but Monk’s mentor, a colorful old New Orleans historian disagrees. “Every jazzman in America would know if he died.”
Hurricane Katrina changes Monk’s life. Left by the storm to survive on his own, he stealthily traverses courtyards and rooftops of the French Quarter filching food and supplies, and ducking authorities who would take him away. He witnesses the brutal murder of a man he calls Uncle Earl. When Monk shouts out to warn Earl, he is spied by the murderer. Now Monk is on the run from a dangerous criminal.
Unknown to him, in the midst of the storm and its aftermath a woman Monk has never met has come to New Orleans to save him and to reveal the mystery of his father’s disappearance.
Thelonious Rising is an uplifting story of a family’s struggle to find one another in the chaos of a national disaster and ordinary life interrupted.
“In Thelonious Rising, Judith Richards weaves a tale of heartbreak, hope and the indomitable human spirit. Set in the Lower Ninth Ward in the days leading up to, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina devastating New Orleans, vivid characters sweep the reader along through this compelling story and remind us that, Phoenix-like, Thelonious will ever and always be rising.”
Chuck Cannon, Writer/Songwriter
“Many writers cast musicians as characters in their books. Few get it right. Judith Richards has captured music on the pages ofThelonious Rising the way we hear it, the way we feel it. Music is as important to Monk and Jean as staying above water.”
Chris Clifton, musician