The Storm Chasers
by Jenna Blum
In an attempt to locate her manic brother whom she has not seen for twenty years, Karena joins a Storm Chasers Club. Members of one of this unique group loves storms, any storms, but in particular, tornadoes. When storm conditions appear imminent on computer screens and via the news media indicating that opposing wind patterns might develop into their cyclic tornado funnels, thrill-seeking storm chasers hunt down these damaging, often life-taking, twisters.
Karena, however, is not a genuine club member. She has tagged along with the Storm Chasers because her brother, Charles, had always loved the horrific storms. Rather than search for him in any normal way, Karena knows Charles is out there somewhere in "tornado alley" because as a child, he could not get enough of the dramatic twisters. He had studied them through library books, pictures, and most recently, through dramatic television footage and his computer.
Karena’s brother Charles is a wanderer. He has no real home or purpose. He more or less lives out of his automobile in any place flat and conducive to the vertical intersection between two dynamic wind masses. He eats what he is offered, and during the months when tornadoes are not so active, Charles takes simple jobs to earn enough for gas mileage and lodging.
During early childhood, Karena felt responsible for Charles. Why? Charles is her twin. Karena wonders why she is not an afflicted manic like her brother; afterall, they shared the same embryonic sac for precisely the same amount of time. Still, she has some symptoms of daily melancholia: bouts of depression each day during the time when daylight is resolving thru dusk. Karena has always taken care of her brother.
Sister and brother share a deadly secret. Twenty years ago during one of Charles' automobile rides into the savagery of a storm, he drives wildly to keep up with the cycling winds. His sister immediately recognizes his manic high but does nothing to control it. Unintentionally, a lone cyclist thuds into the side of their car, loses control of his bike, and is sliced along the ground as if against coarse sand paper to his death. Karena tricks her brother into committing himself into a mental facility, fearful about his moods and seeking her own freedom.
Why does Karena seek to find Charles after twenty years? Does she feel pent up guilt after twenty years? Is she equally responsible for the savage accident after twenty years? And, if she does find her twin, is it too late to undo their lawful punishment for leaving the scene of such a deadly accident twenty years ago?
I would highly recommend The Storm Chasers for several reasons. Jenna Blum has already proven her innate ability to write. Her first book, Those Who Save Us, is a 5-star treasure which I’ve never forgotten. This second book of Blum’s shows an enormous understanding of what it means to be manic, and what it means to become truly emotionally involved with a manic kin.
The characters in this book are well developed, particularly Charles’ and Karena’s who at one and the same time love one another, yet can never share whatever the chemical imbalance that tips the scale to set off a psychotic incident for Charles.
This is a book for everyone. You will ride inside the storm of emotional tornadoes and the ghastly wrath of the real tornadoes seeking to tear you asunder. Read it—it surely will not disappoint.