Title: The Stormchasers
Author: Jenna Blum
Publisher: Dutton Adult (May 27, 2010)
Pages: 384 pages
About the Book: (from Goodreads.com)
As a teenager, Karena Jorge had always been the one to look out for her twin brother Charles, who suffers from bipolar disorder. But as Charles begins to refuse medication and his manic tendencies worsen, Karena finds herself caught between her loyalty to her brother and her fear for his life. Always obsessed with the weather-enraptured by its magical unpredictability that seemed to mirror his own impulses- Charles starts chasing storms, and his behavior grows increasingly erratic . . . until a terrifying storm chase with Karena ends with deadly consequences, tearing the twins apart and changing both of their lives forever.
Two decades later, Karena gets a call from a psychiatric ward in Wichita, Kansas, to come pick up her brother, whom she hasn't seen or spoken to for twenty years. She soon discovers that Charles has lied to the doctors, taken medication that could make him dangerously manic, and disappeared again. Having exhausted every resource to try and track him down, Karena realizes she has only one last chance of finding him: the storms. Wherever the tornadoes are, that's where he'll be. Karena joins a team of professional stormchasers-passionate adventurers who will transform her life and give her a chance at love and redemption- and embarks on an odyssey to find her brother before he reveals the violent secret from their past and does more damage to himself . . . or to someone else.
Setting: Midwest – Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska – growing up in South Dakota and living in Minnesota the the setting was very familiar.
About the Author: When Jenna is not on the road speaking and storm chasing, she divides her time between Boston, where she teaches master novel workshops for Grub Street Writers, and Minnesota, where she writes in the rural town in which her mom and grandmother were born. Jenna is also the author of Writer On The Road, her travel/writing column for Grub Daily, and a contributor to Grub Daily's weekly advice column. Jenna attended Kenyon College and Boston University, where she taught creative and communications writing for five years and was the editor of AGNI literary Magazine. She has been writing since she was four and to aspiring writers often quotes Winston Churchill's advice: "Never give in, never give in, never give in." (from http://www.jennablum.com/blum-bio.htm)
Interview with the Author:
The Stormchasers was the October selection for my bookgroup, Books & Babble. I am totally bummed that I ended up getting ill and was unable to go to group. I heard it was a great discussion. Originally, we had hope the author would be joining us for the discussion, but she was detained a day longer in Duluth. We were all very disappointed.
Having also read, Those Who Save Us, I can say that Jenna Blum is a skillful storyteller that can really capture human emotions. I started reading The Stormhasers on my Kindle. I have to be honest in saying that the story didn’t really grab me at first. Currently in my life I struggle to find the time to read, so I need a book to really grab me. This is more a commentary on my life than the book. Since The Stormchasers wasn’t reaching out and grabbing me like I needed, I switched to the audio version to ensure I would be done for book group. I am very happy I did. The audio added a lot to the story and my experience, such as the rapid, forced speech of Charles during his manic stage. The caution and fear wrapped around Karena’s words at times when talking to Charles was evident in the audio version. This ended up pulling me into the story.
While a predominant theme in The Stormchasers is being a twin and “twindar”, it is overshadowed by the skewed family dynamics of a family dealing with bi-polar disorder. The disorder and the families reaction to it overshadows every event, relationship and decision. Karena is extremely loyal to her twin, Charles. She feels a lot of guilt that she did not share the disorder with her twin, reminded me of survivor guilt.
Karena makes decisions throughout her life regarding Charles and how to help him. I did not agree with her decision to protect Charles’s secret. I think a lot would have been avoided had the problem been dealt with at the time. I loved the whole stormchaser aspect of the story, having grown up in the Midwest I have a realistic fear of tornadoes. I think Blum did an amazing amount of research on the subject including chasing herself. This is very impressive to me.
I really thought the parallel between stormchasing and bi-polar was nicely done. Stormchasing is a perfect analogy for having bi-polar disorder. The calm and then the electrically charged manic episode. In the audio, I could actually feel the energy of the storm as well as the energy of Charles when going into a manic phase.
Having grown up in South Dakota and currently living in Minnesota, I really enjoyed the references to places that were familiar to me. I actually was thinking to myself that I have to look for the arch in Dakota County the next time I head down Hwy 52. I knew the other places that were mentioned, but don’t recall seeing this arch. The flow of the story was good. I was a bit disappointed with the ending. I would have liked to have a bit of a snapshot of how Karena and Charles’s lives were after everything. The ending was just too short for me after the major build up of the story.
My Rating: 3/ 5 - like it! I enjoyed the audio more! Loved, Loved..the characters. Great character development.
Other Bloggers Reviews:
My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing