Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin

The Waiting Sky
Lara Zielin
Release date: August 2nd 2012
by Putnam Juvenile

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.
*A copy was provided by Penguin Group USA for review purposes*

Twister was one of my absolute favourite movies. I used to watch it over and over, fascinated by the tornadoes. Even now, years later, I find myself mesmerized by all natural disasters. They're terrifying and set on destruction, making us seem incredibly small and powerless. When I learned that The Waiting Sky consisted of storm chasers, I simply couldn't wait to get all over this! However, storms are only one of the parts that constitutes this invigorating, intense story.

Our fantastic main character, Jane, is blind to her mother's recklessness. Sure her mom's an alcoholic, but she's not "that" bad, right? Jane's denial of her situation with her mother is remarkably compelling. Even though we know it's out of control, and that Jane should stop making it so easy for her, we're thrown into Jane's shoes so completely that we get a first hand look, and feel, at how difficult it is to accept this reality. Regardless of never having been in this situation myself, it felt highly realistic with just the right blend of naivety and cynicism. Her home life is harsh with no light in sight, which is why Jane decides to join her brother's storm chaser team for the summer.

From one destroyer to another, Jane leaves her intoxicated mother behind to study literal vortexes of destruction: Tornadoes. The perfect distraction from a very emotional plot, this storm chasing side story works incredibly well to turn this dark, dreary book into a richly layered story filled with amazing charm that punctures the bleakness. The team of storm chasers comprises of a gang of excellent supporting characters that have issues and lives of their own. Victor, especially, had me intrigued with his PTSD sufferings. At first I despised his moodiness and inconsiderate behavior, but as time passed I became really fond of how he dealt with the cards that he was given. It's clearly not just the main character that has true substance in this novel. Aside from Victor, Jane's best friend Cat radiates with a power and confidence that Jane needs at the moment. She needs someone to tell her that it is NOT ok, how her mom is behaving. Even though Jane may not acknowledge it, Cat is her rock, her fierce bitch slapper. Everybody needs to get their senses slapped into place sometimes.

With fabulous characters comes a wickedly gratifying plot that involves some very serious, relatable issues, plenty of excitement, exceptional family dynamics, and a spritz of romance - It's instantly engrossing and highly character-driven. The Waiting Sky was far more than I expected; Its two story lines are perfectly tailored together to create a tale of self-discovery that left me equally thrilled and emotionally drained. Twister with a twist, is what it is!

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