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The Waiting Sky

The Waiting Sky

4.6 5
by Lara Zielin

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Karen Sykeny
In this serious and moving coming-of-age novel for older teen girls, Jane McAllister is spending the summer in Oklahoma with her older brother "to figure things out." She joins Ethan's group of tornado chasers as the photographer. She took some of her friend Cat's advice and got away from her alcoholic mother, after her mother picked up Jane and Cat from the mall and had a hit-an- run accident with the girls in the car. Jane's group meets up with a rival twister-chasing group and connects with Max, a fellow high school student like herself, trying to figure out what they want for their futures. Cat and Ethan try to convince Jane to get some help, like Al Anon, and realize she is not really helping herself or her mom when she covers for her mom, who is getting worse. The strained relationships Jane has with all the people in her life, and her feelings and thoughts while working through her personal issues are key elements that make this story engaging and very readable. The tornado-chasing escapades are fun asides reminiscent of the movie Twister. Jane's co-dependency with her mom is realistic and handled very well. There are several situations and language that make it most appropriate for older teens, but in turn, also providing cross-over adult audience appeal. Its unique topic in young adult literature—alcoholism and co-dependency—makes it a must-have for young adult collections. Reviewer: Karen Sykeny
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—After her mother's alcoholism places her best friend's life in jeopardy, anger and confusion spur 17-year-old Jane to take a summer job away from Minnesota, photographing tornadoes for her brother Ethan's chase team. This is the first time she has left her mother, and she is consumed by guilt and struggling with repressed resentment toward Ethan, who she feels abandoned their family years before. She discovers that her mother's claim to have entered a rehab facility is a lie; things come to a head when her mother texts her that she has come to Oklahoma to see her and is waiting at a nearby hotel. Ethan warns Jane not to go, but she winds up stealing the chase team's van in order to get there. The argument that ensues between them results in Jane's finally realizing that she is actually enabling her mother's addiction. Zielin does an excellent job of describing the reversal of roles between a daughter and her parent, and her portrayal of the mother's ability to manipulate her daughter is spot-on. However, the story falls short when, in a brief ending chapter, Jane has come to a swift resolution of her own issues. While the wild weather provides a telling backdrop to Jane's tumultuous emotions, an attempted parallel between her dilemma and that of a chase-team member who is trying to hide a major tornado phobia, and a budding romance between Jane and a rival chase team member add little to the story.—Cary Frostick, Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA.
Kirkus Reviews
A 17-year-old flees her irresponsible, alcoholic mother to summer with her older brother, a tornado researcher. Jane has grown up with dysfunction, and she is so familiar with it that it's come to look almost normal. A car accident caused by her mother's drunk driving, in which her best friend Cat is injured, provides a wake-up call. Jane knows that supporting her mother makes her an enabler, but the guilt she feels when she doesn't protect the woman is almost unbearable. Under pressure from Cat, Jane joins Ethan in the Southwest, where he's part of the Torbros, a tornado-chasing team that competes with the better-funded Twister Blisters, another chase team. Ever-so-attractive and attentive Max, an intern for the Blisters, falls for Jane even as she tries to find a way to balance her manipulative mother's demands against her own emerging sense of self. This is paralleled, less than effectively, against the struggles of one of the Torbros who's become terrified of stormy weather and longs to leave the tightknit group, but stays because of his loyalty to his brother. Characters and plot are predictable, but Jane's first-person voice has an attractive ring of truth to it. Exciting storm scenes may appeal to weather buffs, but there are so many dysfunctional-family books out there that this one feels a bit like a blip on the radar. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 8.34(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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Meet the Author

Lara Zielin, the acclaimed author of The Implosion of Aggie Winchester and Donut Days, lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

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The Waiting Sky 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quick paced and heart wrenching, this book is a true to life tale of healing, grief, and what it means to move on. With characters that are relatable and human, this book looks into the hearts of it's characters and gets down to what it really.means to love someone. This book is heartfelt and beautiful. I especially recommend it to anyone who has had to deal with the pain of addiction - whether their own, or someone elses.
Mebuffy More than 1 year ago
This is a story that hit close to home for me. The struggles Jane faces are so authentic it's utterly heartbreaking. The tornado chasing is fun and exciting, and a neat backdrop to the turmoil within Jane. I was so invested in her journey that I cried when she did as well as plenty of other times. I loved her friend Cat, her brother Ethan and the other TorBros, not to mention Max. The story is beautifully written. I don't normally like flashbacks, but they fit into the flow of this book perfectly. Everything from setting and circumstance to the characters themselves is brought to vivid life seemingly effortlessly. I couldn't put this book down. The Waiting Sky is a story of recovery and family with just a smidgeon of romance tossed in. Lara Zielin delivers a superb read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well thought out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
17 year old Jane McAllister's life is a tornado. Her mom is an alcoholic and (as in so many alcoholic families) there's been a role reversal and Jane is more of a parent to her mom than a child. Dad is out of the picture and older brother Ethan has chosen a different way to deal with mom--by leaving. Jane is barely keeping her out-of-control life together when her mother almost kills her by causing a car crash while driving drunk. It's the last straw and Jane decides to go live with her brother for the summer while sorting out her wildly mixed feelings about her mom. But she has wildly mixed feelings about her brother, too. Yes, he's taken her in for the summer, letting her ride along on his tornado-chasing adventures. However, he left her alone with her mother for years--years when he could have been helping. Jane has a lot of issues to work through in one short summer, but this isn't just an "issue" book. It's also a wild romp through the great plains as rival tornado chasers try to get the most footage, do the best research, and be the most noticed by the television cameras. There are secrets, rivalries, back-stabbing, and one cute boy in the mix, making this a super read that I could not put down! Jane makes some hard choices along the way, torn between her desire to help her mom and her desire to see mom help herself. Torn between living full-time with Ethan and going back home. Torn between doing what's easy and doing what's right. My heart ached for her and I kept turning the pages, watching her stumble, watching her get up again, and, finally, watching her triumph. It was a great read for teens and for anyone who remembers what it was like to be one.