Kelly's Reviews > The Waiting Sky

The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin
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Jul 14, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: ya-fiction, read-in-2012
Read from July 13 to 14, 2012

Jane's mother is an alcoholic.

It's not just a problem with drinking alcohol, though. Jane's mother's actions are much more dangerous and life altering, and Jane feels a heavy sense of responsibility for her mom's behavior. After (view spoiler) Jane knew she had to get away -- at least for a little while. Nothing sounds more appealing than interning with the tornado chasers her brother works with in the plains.

After a tornado clips a small town, Jane and the crew (as well as rivaling chasers) stick around to help with rebuilding and cleaning efforts. Fortunately, no one had been hurt, but the town needed a little help. More than that, though, this was an opportunity for the rivaling chasers to get some good press. Because naturally, there's competition among them. And when that competition and tension comes to a head, it's because Jane and rival chase team member Max may be falling for one another.

What works well in this book is the metaphor of tornado chasing and dealing with whirlwind events that shake up relationships. But more than that, this is really a story about Jane learning how to take control of her own life and her own destiny. (view spoiler) Jane is a likeable character, even though she makes some poor choices and she's really unaware of her own ability to take control of her life. But as much as I liked her, I found myself more sucked in to Victor. Victor didn't even like chasing tornadoes because he'd been hurt in one. The thing is, he couldn't stop -- he didn't want to hurt his brother. (view spoiler) However, Victor's dislike for the classic movie TWISTER was cause for a little side eye from me.

The writing was good, though I found some of the references to be a little dated and/or irrelevant to developing or advancing the characters. They could have been cut to make the narrative a little tighter. There were some fantastic lines and passages, though, and I wished for just a little bit more of that and a little bit less of the periodic hand-holding. A couple of times I felt like I was being led a little too obviously into the metaphor when the metaphors and story parallels spoke loudly for themselves.

I also found the ending to be a little too clean. (view spoiler) What I'd hoped for was a little more emotional angst in making these tough choices. Rather than have them just happen, I wanted to feel the struggle. Jane's had it rough, but I wanted her to hit bottom -- real bottom -- for that ending to feel as satisfying as it should have felt. It felt like she'd gotten about 3/4 of the way there. Reaching that total loss would have given the book just a little more weight. (view spoiler)

I appreciated the way the romance did and did not play out, as it was only a tiny bit of the story and never once was an opportunity for a male character to save a female. (view spoiler)

This reminded me a lot of Jenna Blum's adult novel THE STORMCHASERS, which is one of my all-time favorite reads. Readers who enjoy Zielin's novel and are ready for something a little more literary will likely appreciate Blum's take on storm chasing and family relationships. This book will work well for those who are interested in family stories, in storm chasing (though admittedly, it's more on the implications of instead of the action of doing so), or who want something just a little bit different in their contemporary YA.

Longer review to come.
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Reading Progress

07/13/2012 "This sounds reminiscent of one of my all-time favorite books, The Stormchasers."
07/13/2012 page 60
27.0% "Between the Blum-esque feeling and the Fargo joke, I'm enjoying this."
07/13/2012 page 186
83.0% "I can't wait for Jane to act upon everything she's just figured out. But I kind of hate Victor's dislike of the movie "Twister." Uncalled for."

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