Monday, October 22, 2012

Jen's Thoughts: The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin

Published: August 2, 2012
Putnam Juvenile, hardcover, 224 pages
Source: purchased
GoodReads Summary: One summer chasing tornadoes could finally change Jane's life for the better Seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister can't quite admit her mother's alcoholism is spiraling dangerously out of control until she drives drunk, nearly killing them and Jane's best friend. Jane has only one place to turn: her older brother Ethan, who left the problems at home years ago for college. A summer with him and his tornado-chasing buddies may just provide the time and space Jane needs to figure out her life and whether it still includes her mother. But she struggles with her anger at Ethan for leaving home and feels guilty--is she also abandoning her mom just when she needs Jane most? The carefree trip turned journey of self-discovery quickly becomes more than Jane bargained for, especially when the devilishly handsome Max steps into the picture. 

 I've always been absolutely fascinated by tornadoes. By "fascinated", I partially mean "terrified." Ask my parents. I used to hide in their closet when it so much as rained. At 27, I've mostly outgrown that fear. And I live 300 miles from my parents, so I'm sure they're thankful that I don't hide in their closet anymore. I hide in my own closet.

Anyway, I've always watched shows like The Weather Channel and Storm Chasers and, of course, I LOVED Twister. Even though Bill Paxton's acting leaves one cringing a little. And I loved The Night of the Twisters--that includes the movie with a prepubescent Devon Sawa.

So when I heard about a YA book centered around storm chasing, I couldn't help but buy The Waiting Sky. I was all set for a fictitious storm chase, when I skidded to a bit of a halt. The storm chasing was more of an "added bonus," rather than the center of the plot. I can't lie: I was disappointed. I wanted DETAIL. I wanted grit. I wanted heart-pounding action and near-death experiences. I wanted lives flashing before eyes. I really didn't get much of that. It was more like a baby tornado pulls up aside your car and throws pebbles at you, to which you and your storm chaser friends laugh and smile knowingly, saying, "look how big and strong the baby twister is!" I wanted the likeness of Helen Hunt's EF-5 experience in words, damnit.

Jane's story revolved around her alcoholic mother and her own coming-of-age. Which, I'm cool with that, but how often do you see tornadoes in YA books? NOT OFTEN. I think my expectations of this book were a little high. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this. The romance was very sweet and Lara Zielin has a knack for wonderfully quirky dialogue. There were some awfully sweet moments packed into this pint-sized book between rival storm chaser intern, Max, and our hard-headed narrator, Jane. The characters were alive and well-written in The Waiting Sky, and Jane's struggle between wanting to better herself and wanting to keep her mother from drinking herself dead was believable.

If I had gone into this thinking The Waiting Sky was an issue book with a hint of death-defying vortex action, I'd have been more satisfied. Still, a solid, fast read with a reasonable amount of excitement, but more focused on family issues than anything else.


Other Bloggers' Thoughts

12 comments:

  1. love this review! I can remember seeing this on tara's (fiction folio) blog and being SO EXCITED because I loved twister soooo much and tornado's have always really fascinated me. did you know that we (the UK) get more tornado's per area per year than the US? but we've never ever had one reported that's been more than an F3 (which are few are far between). pretty disappointed that we don't get Twister the YA edition! i was looking forward to some serious tornado chasing in tornado alley. plus, some kissing whilst waterspouts connected to a large cumulonimbus cloud raged in the background would've made me SO HAPPY. I mean, if i'm reading a book about a tornado, I want there to be loads of them and lots of panic kissing. twister made me hard to please.

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    1. I love that you just said cumulonimbus. Whenever it's about to storm and I'm like "OH WOW, look at that cumulonimubus. The anvil shape is really becoming defined." And people look at me like I just told them their head is banana-shaped or something.

      AND I love that you referenced the Fujita scale WOOT WOOT. This is why we're blog soulmates.

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  2. I'm with you on the disappointment. I'm also with you on the Twister/Night of the Twister love.

    I grew up in Oklahoma, AKA prime tornado territory. I used to have this awesome "storm chaser" kit that I made for myself, hahahaha. It had a kid's pink hand held radio, a disposable camera, several issues of this weather magazine with my favorite tornado articles, and a notebook full of NOTES I TOOK WHILE WATCHING THE WEATHER CHANNEL. I TOOK NOTES.

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    1. OH MY GOD. You're my favorite person right now. I used to watch The Weather Channel for fun. FOR SPORT. Just like it was an episode of Boy Meets World or something. I still watch the weather for my family (now that I live so far from them) and I will call them and say "bad weather coming your way. You really should think about staying home and getting in the basement."

      And honestly? My dad is probably going to read this comment and laugh, BECAUSE IT'S TRUE.

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  3. Oh bummer. I remember when Tara put up this book as well and we bonded over our love of Twister. (P.S. Have you read the Carrie Underwood song "Blown Away"? Everytime I hear it I think of this book.) Anyway, sad to hear you were disappointed. I was really looking forward to this unique subjecttttttttttttttt. Noooo. I guess this will be in my library pile. :( Thanks for the review.

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  4. Great review! I'm thinking of picking this up at my next book haul!

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  5. Shame there isn't more about the storm chasing as that is the part I'm most interested in as well but I do love contemporaries so this will probably still work for me.

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  6. Completely agree! I wanted death-defying twisters and scariness and shit flying all over the place. It was still a good book though, just not quite what I was hoping for...

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  7. I really loved this book, but you are right -- there really isn't a lot of tornado action! I think I liked it best for the relationships and the fact that there are a lot of family things going on. It was great!

    Awesome review, Jen!

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  8. Never heard of this one! But I am fascinated by twisters! I swear my sister and I watched the movie Twisters like 9308320 billion times as children. The cow flying through the air always made us giggle.

    Sad there wasn't more twister action!

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  9. I think I was generally more aware that this book was about Jane and her issues with her mother, so I definitely enjoyed this one. I definitely think it was a creative comparison - the real life storms versus the emotional storms Jane weathers.

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