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 literaturealcoholism and co-dependencymakes it a must-have for young adult collections. Reviewer: Karen Sykeny
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.
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)