The Displacements: A Novel of Climate Catastrophe

by | Oct 19, 2022 | What I'm Reading | 4 comments

Bruce Holsinger’s 2022 novel The Displacements portrays a world that is all too likely through the experiences of a range of characters. Lovely blonde Daphne Larsen, newly transported to the Miami area from Ann Arbor by her surgeon husband’s career, is on the verge of a commercial breakthrough for her ceramic art when Hurricane Luna, the first category 6 storm in history, wipes out everything.


The magnificent house in Coral Gables. The collection of 200 pieces of her art stored in the attic above her studio. Her prospects for a breakthrough sale to a major collector.

There is no time to think about these losses as she loads her three children into the hybrid Honda Odyssey in response to evacuation orders. Her husband assures her he will meet up with them once all his hospital’s patients have been evacuated. 

But the Odyssey runs out of gas, and repeated calls to the hospital inform Daphne that her husband was among the early casualties in the storm. And Daphne finds that neither her credit cards nor her debit cards work anymore. The destructiveness of Luna is so extensive that Daphne and her children must be transported by bus to a FEMA mega-shelter in Oklahoma along with gun-toting white people and Guatemalan farmworkers.

It’s a whole new world, in more ways than one. 

Daphne’s struggles are punctuated by glimpses into the perspectives of Gavin Hall, Daphne’s 18-year-old stepson whose college career at Stanford has been interrupted; Mia, Daphne’s sixth-grade daughter who wants nothing more than to be accepted by her peers; Rain Holton, the African American FEMA manager placed in charge of the megashelter; Tate Bondurant, insurance agent turned opiod supplier; and the documentary testimonies of numerous individuals interspersed through the novel as part of an apparent investigation into the aftermath of the storm and its management.

Bad things happen to just about everyone in this novel, but some people come out of the experience with more and better options than they went into it with.

The fact that there are numerous references to the recent pandemic adds a note of reality to the novel. These are events that could take place next year, especially in the wake of reports of the destructive power of Hurricane Ian. And if they don’t take place next year, they are likely to take place soon after. This is a gripping account well worth reading.