Friday, September 21, 2012

THE WAITING SKY by Lara Zielin

Author: Lara Zielin
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: August 2, 2012
Number of Pages: 224
Source of Book: My Awesome Sister Classroom teacher, Brian Wyzlic, bought the hardcover at her signing event in MI for me!
One summer chasing tornadoes could finally change Jane's life for the better.

Seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister can't quite admit her mother's alcoholism is spiraling dangerously out of control until she drives drunk, nearly killing them and Jane's best friend.

Jane has only one place to turn: her older brother Ethan, who left the problems at home years ago for college. A summer with him and his tornado-chasing buddies may just provide the time and space Jane needs to figure out her life and whether it still includes her mother. But she struggles with her anger at Ethan for leaving home and feels guilty--is she also abandoning her mom just when she needs Jane most? The carefree trip turned journey of self-discovery quickly becomes more than Jane bargained for, especially when the devilishly handsome Max steps into the picture.
Holy wow. THE WAITING SKY is incredibly absorbing. Lara Zielin's writing voice is so engaging. It was definitely a stayed up too late reading because I didn't want to stop and woke up the next morning thinking about it anxiously wanting to know what was going to happen kind of book. The suspense Lara Zielin built throughout this story was undeniable. The way in which the characters handle the alcoholism seems very real and honest. I imagine any teens or students who are dealing with these issues in their own lives would really relate to what Jane is going through. I imagine any friends of those teens would really relate to Cat and Ethan trying to help Jane see clearly what's happening and how she's ruining her own life trying to save her mother's.

THE WAITING SKY is an honest portrayal of a real girl who needs help, and those who are trying to help her see the light are the voice of reason. The juxtaposition of the tornado stories with Jane's own family dynamics strengthens this shorter novel. The human emotion of this story within the family dynamics, interspersed with the anticipation and aftermath of the tornado chasing, adds a level of suspense that make it a page-turning read. It's life or death with the tornados, and it's life or death for Jane and her mother. There are high stakes in both areas, and whether or not Jane will make it out okay, is up in the air. It sounds like a heavy story, and I wasn't sure if I was in the mood to read it, but once I started I realized that although it deals with some heavy topics, because of the way Jane is written in such a real way, I just wanted to root for her and keep going - it never felt overbearing.

I really loved the characters in this story and their interactions with each other. They're all messed up in their own ways, but also all look out for each other. The older brother, Ethan, is a favorite for sure. And Max provides a balance to Jane that is desperately needed. There are all sorts of little moments within the context of these bigger issues that add sweet elements to the story and lighten up the heaviness of the topic, but still keep it real. THE WAITING SKY has an alcoholic mother and it has tornadoes, but it's about Jane and her journey to understanding and acceptance and fighting for herself. It's a coming-of-age book in the best sense of the phrase. Overall, it's an intriguing, honest story that has a voice that makes me want to be friends with the characters, and read more of Lara Zielin's books.

1 comment:

  1. I was wondering about how much of this one actually dealt with the mother's alcoholism, and how much of it was the storm chasing aspect. From your review it sounds like it's quite evenly balanced, which is nice. I'm glad to hear it's not overly heavy but still tackles a tough topic. Thanks for giving me a better idea of what to expect with this one! :)