Stormchasers, Jenna Blum
The book started out crisply and grabbed my interest. Of course, it could be because I am a fraternal twin and like Karena, the main character, I, too, have a troubled brother for whom I have often been uncomfortably responsible. I have had moments of a kind of telepathy or “twindar” as Karena calls it in the book. In addition, I once lived in Minnesota, in Edina, actually, where she currently lives. I, too, was also terrified of tornadoes and the accompanying siren and used to hide in the basement bathroom, the only windowless room in the house, having absolutely no idea which corner of the house or which room was safest. I also hated lutefisk, a traditional Norwegian dish, which is Cod soaked in Lye for a number of hours.
I had a lot in common with the narrator of the book and the tale she told. Like Karena, I feel as if my life is inexplicably “twinned” with my brother’s, each one’s existence threatened by the loss of the other’s and irrevocably intertwined. Karena’s twin brother, Charles, has been missing, like mine once was. He has no forwarding address and no phone records. All she knows is that he is a stormchaser, but he leaves no trail for her to follow and find him.
Karena, was often given unrealistic responsibility for her brother, by her parents. She was really too young to handle the decisions that needed to be made for his well being and far too young to handle the discipline that was required to deal with and control her sibling. Yet, the parents were largely uninvolved with the care and containment of Charles as they were in denial and were embarrassed by his mental illness. It is disheartening to think that a situation like this might actually exist with the burden of one sibling’s care placed on the shoulders of the other, who is just a child, herself. This burden was life altering for Karena and debilitating for Charles since he did not receive the proper care or attention necessary for his healthy growth and survival and his life altering experiences were thus reacted to in each moment of catastrophe, without the proper thoughtfulness or judgment necessary, but instead with an impulsive response.
The book explores the relationship between the twins, which is very close, although many years have passed since they have seen each other. Although, that seems implausible, I know from experience that it is absolutely possible and probable because of the inner sense one twin always seems to have of the other. When Karena meets a stormchaser, who coincidentally knew her brother, a love story develops as she searches for him, no longer alone in her quest. The book begins in one time period and then moves to another in the past, then back into the present again in order to better develop the characters and explain their relationships as the search for Charles progresses.
Because I identified with so many of the issues facing Karena, the book was able to hold my interest even when the tale seemed to get bogged down in minutia, but I am not certain it would do the same for a non twin. Still, I would recommend it as an interesting read.