“Karena’s whole body flushes hot, then cold. She sits on the edge of her desk and looks around the little white room, as if somebody else is there to confirm that yes, this is it. The call. The call she’s been expecting, rehearsing for, dreading for twenty years.
‘Yes, I have a brother Charles,’ she says. ‘He’s my twin. Is everything all right?'”
The Stormchasers, Jenna Blum
The Stormchasers, by Jenna Blum, was published in 2010 and is 369 pages. I wanted to read this novel because I loved Blum’s earlier novel, Those Who Save Us, about a German woman during the Nazi occupation. I was also intrigued by the premise of The Stormchasers, about adult twins torn apart by a terrible secret from their past and reunited in Tornado Alley. The novel was every bit as fascinating as I’d hoped.
When The Stormchasers begins, Karena Jorge is turning 38, but in spite of her newspaper job and close friends, her life feels empty. She feels the vacancy of her separation from her bipolar, storm-chasing twin, Charles. Before the day is over, she gets the call she’s been anticipating for years–a psychiatric ward in Kansas contacts her looking for the family of a man who has just checked in. Once Karena is able to get to the hospital, her brother is gone, but she is determined to find him. Karena convinces her newspaper to send her on assignment with a group of storm chasers for a story, while she searches for Charles.
From the danger and thrill of chasing tornadoes, to the beginnings of a love affair, Karena gets more than she bargained for at every stop. When her past collides with her present, she finds that the only way around the storm is straight through it.
I read The Stormchasers in four nights. Blum’s descriptions of turbulent weather are riveting, frightening, and invigorating, and her family narrative is every bit as rich. The setting and plot are unique and unpredictable, and the ending is very satisfying. Blum does a brilliant job of giving characters redemption without letting anyone off the hook, which to me, makes the best kind of ending.
While Blum’s earlier novel, Those Who Save Us, was very different from The Stormchasers, both utilize a split time period narrative structure, memorable characters, and descriptions so clear I envisioned them as movies while I read. Blum is fearless and unflinching in her writing, and it’s no wonder she’s an internationally bestselling novelist. She penetrates the heart of what it is to be human, to make choices, and to face the consequences of those choices head-on.
Fans of Jodi Piccoult and Caroline Leavitt will love The Stormchasers. I can’t wait to see where Blum’s next novel will take me.