The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin
Published by Putnam Juvenile, 2012
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.
Why I Read This:
The Waiting Sky has been on my TBR for a while now. When I saw it at the library and noticed it was a shorter book, I decided to take it out and finally give it a try.
There's something very powerful about using metaphor in story, especially contemporary story. So when I saw The Waiting Sky was about a girl figuring out what to do about an alcoholic mother while simultaneously chasing tornadoes, I just knew I had to see where this one would take me.
For the most part, I enjoyed The Waiting Sky. It was a simple story, and like I said, filled with metaphors about storms. The characters in the book even play this would-you-rather game called "The Vortex Game". The idea is to put (hypothetically) two things you love next to a tornado. Then you have to choose which one you will save. Throughout the book, it's apparent that Jane is coming to terms with her mother's problem, her role in aiding her, and how it affects her life. By the end of the book she uses this very game as a way to figure out what she needs to do about her situation.
I'm sure many teens and adults too will find many things they can relate to in the story. For example, there is both the action scenes with the tornado chasers, conflict among different groups, and Jane's own personal story which involves both her mother's alcohol problem, and her abandonment issues with her brother. However, I also felt that Jane herself got lost in the mix. After having finished the story I'm still not sure who Jane is, where her interests lie, and what her personality really is. So much of the story focuses on the now that character development had more to do with choices than actual character, in my opinion.
Though Jane's story is important, what I really liked reading about was the tornado chasers. Their rivalry between groups, the fear that some of the characters have to deal with, and seeing the storms in action, getting to learn just a little more about how they work, is what really made this book worth the read for me.
Disclaimer: I read a library copy.