Expected publication: May 6th 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersBorn and raised in the Midwest, Jersey Cameron knows all about tornadoes. Or so she thinks. When her town is devastated by a twister, Jersey survives — but loses her mother, her young sister, and her home. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she’s sent to live with her only surviving relatives: first her biological father, then her estranged grandparents.
In an unfamiliar place, Jersey faces a reality she’s never considered before — one in which her mother wasn’t perfect, and neither were her grandparents, but they all loved her just the same. Together, they create a new definition of family. And that’s something no tornado can touch.
This book was very heavy…A very emotionally charged story. I cannot fathom losing everything to a natural disaster. This is the first book I have ever read that was centered on a tornado and the aftermath. Prior to this, my only experience with a story centered around (no pun intended) a tornado was the film Twister. So, yes—this book was quite heavy.
Brown created a very vivid world for her readers. This world was chaotic and filled with despair, but nonetheless it was real. That is why there is such a cathartic response to this story, because it seems real. The protagonist, Jersey is very much a normal girl; she could be your neighbor, your best friend or your schoolmate. Imagining all these terrible things happening to someone so ordinary, so very much like yourself is absolutely heartbreaking.
I may have just described the saddest story in the world. Have no fear, you may cry a bit, or a lot in this book, but you will exit the last pages with a sense of hope and inspiration. Tragedy reveals what really matters in life, and it is heartwarming for Jersey to open her eyes to see that although life is different, it can still be beautiful.
The writing is powerful, and the heavy emotions of this book do not overcharge the development of the plot or characters. It is not your typical ‘sad book all about sadness and the world is so big and evil and sad’.
Read it. Cry. Appreciate the life you have even more than you did entering the first pages of this story.
I highly recommend this book.
Thank you, HBG for the review copy.