Monday, August 6, 2012

The Waiting Sky by Lara Zeilin

The Waiting Sky
Lara Zeilin
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Released: August 7, 2012
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 224
Source: Cavalier House Books
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 needed this book to be good. I picked up three others in as many days and nearly threw them in frustration. I needed this book to be good. But I was skeptical. Tornado chasers? Right. So I picked up this book and didn't put it down until I was finished. I did get a little excited when I first opened this and realized it was written by the same author as The Implosion of Aggie Winchester*, but I really was not prepared for what I was about to read.

Jane is a girl living in denial. As addicted to keeping things together as her mom is to booze, she doesn't realize just how deep she's in until her best friend steps in with an ultimatum. Jane decides, against her better judgement, to spend the summer with her older brother chasing tornadoes across the open plains. Jane feels equally guilty for leaving her mother to fend for herself and angry with Ethan for walking out on their family. As Jane spends time away from home and getting to know her brother better, she wonders if her judgement may have been clouded by her mother's false assurances.

I love contemporary fiction. It' definitely something to think up different worlds and creatures and societies, but making the every day issue good - that's a talent I've come to know and love. Jane's story isn't new. Her mom's a drunk, her brother left to make something of himself, and she's stuck cleaning up the mess. She spends more time managing her mother's life than living her own. When she finally gets out of town with a shove from her always-looking-out-for-her friend, she almost doesn't know what to do with herself besides contemplate her existence. It's a life-changing trip for Jane, and getting to watch her make the trek was fantastic.

I thought Jane was a sympathetic character from the start. Although it was easy to see the mistakes she was making, making them to protect her mom was more than conceivable. I loved that Cat, Jane's friend, was strong enough to tell Jane what she didn't want to hear. I liked hearing Ethan's story and knowing his actions weren't as selfish as they seemed. I liked that Ethan made Jane really think about what was really best for their mom. I also really enjoyed the weather factor. It was extremely interesting to learn a bit of the science of it all and to get a glimpse of the dangers people actually face for research.

I think this novel will appeal to any contemporary fan with its relatable main character, everyday premise with an exciting twist (literally), and the stunning writing. It certainly puts Zeilin's backlist titles, along with any future works, on my radar.


*I still have not read Aggie, but I really must remedy that soon. I have heard such good things about it.

FTC: I received an ARC of this novel from Penguin via Cavalier House Books in exchange for an honest review.

9 comments:

  1. I have read Aggie and it left me interested in reading more by the author; that plus the tornado chaser concept make this sound like a really cool read. I've never read any books with tornado chasing but I think I'll like this one. Thanks for the review!

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