The Stormchasers: A Novel
Jenna Blum has done it again. Her New York Times bestseller, Those Who Save Us, introduced readers to a terrific storyteller (one of Oprah’s Top 30 Women Writers), and The Stormchasers treats readers to more of the same.
The three-segment structure Blum uses to divide her 54 chapters fits the movement of this story. She begins with present day Karena (including her time as a stormchaser) so the main character becomes instantly familiar, relatable. She follows with a 20-year flashback to teen years to fill in a few more bits of the puzzle, and then saves the end for the most surprising segment: reunion of brother and sister.
Blum draws characters with a finely chiseled brush so that depth, thought, and pain are evident. With an eye for detail and dedication to extensive research, this author brings authenticity and gripping suspense to a genuinely surprising tale of searching, secrets, and siblings.
The Stormchasers starts with an ordinary birthday celebration for newspaper reporter, Karena Jorge, and a secret drink with a friend. But Blum quickly reveals what will become a central thread in the story: Karena has a twin—a twin she hasn’t seen in 20 years—with long-term bipolar issues. The storm is already brewing even as, early on, Karena describes having her twin as “always being off balance, but [something] you learn to live with . . .”
That slight wind, a feeling of being “off balance,” grows with a vengeance as Blum begins to weave a picture, through Karena’s recalled memories and her thoughts of the future and of her inescapable connection to and interdependence with her twin, Charles. This feeling becomes a drive to reconnect that leads Karena to concoct an assignment that takes her into the heart of the last world she knows her brother to have been a part of: the world of people who chase tornados.
With the guidance of a crackpot team, Karena rides out actual storms. But no one can help her with the intensely emotional storms that crowd her mind as she searches for her elusive brother. Even after the long search when she finally finds him, the storms don’t settle down. A dark, destructive side to this accomplished young woman threatens to explode her world and forever ruin her chance of happiness. The consequences of long-ago choices bear down on her much like a wedge tornado.
Will what has become nearly an obsession to connect and protect destroy the “normal” life that Karena has worked so hard to create? Will Charles end up being more than she can bear? How will finding him change her life forever? Hang on; you’re in for a wild ride.
Reviewer Cathy Puett Miller is a national children’s and family literacy consultant and author of Anytime Reading Readiness and Before They Read, both published by Maupin House.