November 16, 2012

Chasing Hurricanes • The Waiting Sky

The Waiting Sky Lara Zielin book cover
The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: August 2, 2012
Source: Borrowed from the library || Hardcover

All her life, Jane McAllister has lived with the knowledge that her mother is an alcoholic. Acting as the parent has become the norm to her, but will a summer chasing storms with her brother convince her that maybe there's more to life than just that?

People who chase storms have always managed to intrigue me. I’m in awe of their bravery in the face of this crazy chaos that Mother Nature can cook up, but I’m also thinking that they’re being reckless and risking their lives. It’s a fine line they manage to walk, and I’m certain I’m not the only one who finds the idea of storm chasing absolutely intriguing.

Reading The Waiting Sky actually reminded me of playing Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister last year with one of my best friends. I had barely any idea of what storm chasing entailed, but the game gave me a pretty good idea of what was involved. The book did the same, though there weren’t too many storms being chased (which made me all kinds of sad). I got an even better look about what it meant to be involved in chasing storms with a team, including how competitive and scary things could get.

Jane, our main character, has very deep-rooted issues. This comes as no surprise because she’s the child of an alcoholic mother. I thought it was very interesting to look at what happens to the people who love and live with alcoholics, as I’ve never actually read a book about that before. It kind of broke my heart a little to see that Jane felt like she had to be the responsible adult and take care of her mom, who was almost like a child.

Even though it made me mad, I could understand why Jane had such difficulty extricating herself from the situation – she loved her mom and could practically live off the moments where her mom was in control of herself. I really wanted her to let go, for her mom’s sake, but it really tore at my heartstrings to imagine trying to distance yourself from someone you love and the reality that you’ve always known. I was as conflicted as Jane was while I read the book, and the fact I could empathize with her definitely made this book even more winning.

As for the other characters, I have brief thoughts about a few of them. Cat, for instance, is actually a good friend, who does try her best to convince Jane to take steps to remedy the home situation she lives with. Ethan, on the other hand, is a good big brother, though I don’t think the initial course of action he took with regards to his mom and Jane was very smart or well-planned. And Max sounds cute, but I wasn’t too big a fan of the fact that the romance just felt very instant to me. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Tornado Brothers crew, and how I adored the family vibe they shared!

I think the best part of this entire novel is how a thoughtful comparison is implied between actual storms and the “storms” in Jane’s own life. The imagery was beautifully woven together, and it was very fitting for telling this particular story.

Though there was a distinct lack of actual storms being chased, there was enough going on in Jane’s world to make this book quite the read. I thoroughly enjoyed dipping into the world of storm chasers, but it was the story of Jane and the storms she weathered in life that really made it a stand out novel to me.


  1. Hm.. this does sound pretty interesting. I could NEVER be one of those people who chase after storms! I prefer to be safe in my house. :)

  2. I like strong imagery and deep, thoughtful books and great characters and omg okay TORNADOES, so yeah I'll read this book eventually!

  3. I just finished The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Zielin and really enjoyed the author's voice and how quick paced the contemp was. I don't know if this one sounds as interesting...but I did like the writer...hmm...

  4. I'm also pretty intrigued by people who chase storms, mostly because I don't understand why risking your life could be fun! You'll see me running in the opposite direction. ;) Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed this. The reverser so far have been mostly positive so I'm eager to read it myself. Wonderful review, Alexa!

  5. Sounds like a touchy, realistic book. I've never read a book with the concept either. Great review!
    Little Book Star

  6. I wasn't expecting much from this but ending up loving it. It was a simple yet beautiful story and I enjoyed it all the way through. I agree with you that there weren't many storms being chased but nonetheless, I didn't mind because I was too busy reading up! Glad you liked it too!

  7. I read this book a few months ago and it totally caught me off guard. I'll be the first to admit I am NOT a fan of issue novels. Nope, no thank you.

    That said, I was so intrigued by the storm chaser plot that I decided to push through and I'm SO glad I did. :) This book became one of my top reads of 2012!

    I agree with you 100% on the lack of actual storm chasing (I wanted to see more!), the insta-love, and the awesomeness of the storm chasers themselves.

  8. Yay! I'm so glad that you enjoyed this one too. I loved how it was a tornado AND issue book in one. It was really much deeper than I expected and I loved it. Great review Alexa!!

  9. Wonderful review, Alexa! I finally got a copy of this gorgeous book and I cannot wait to read it. I know I am going to connect with Jane's home-life. And I think storm chasers are v.brave, too!

  10. I thought this was a wonderful book, but you're right -- there was a lack of storms. It was definitely a more personal than an actual storm chasing book. But, I finished it happy, so I'm good. :) And I love the cover!

  11. I don't think I even knew that it was about storm chasing. It sounds like the kind of emotional book I like to read,though. I've seen it around, but never read a review, so thanks!

  12. I was able to meet Lara at a book signing quite a few months back and couldn't help but want to buy this book. I haven't had the chance to read it yet but I am excited to! I am a bit sad there isn't a whole lot of actual storm chasing going on (I am also quite fascinated with that) but it still sounds like a great book!


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