2012 · 5 stars · contemporary · ya

review; the waiting sky

Title: The Waiting Sky
Author: Lara Zielin
Pub. Date: August, 2012
Summary: 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.
Genre: YA, Contemporary

You don’t go through things with people and not love them more for it. It’s like those guys in the army who fight in muddy trenches and drag each other out of harm’s way and are blood brothers for life because of it all. Only in our case, my mom and I faced eviction notices and power shutoffs together.

Guys, I wasn’t at all prepared for The Waiting Sky. I went into it expecting a super fun book about storm chasers with maybe a little issue-story in the background. Instead, The Waiting Sky was like a punch in the gut, an unapologetic view of the self-destruction of an alcoholic and her teenage daughter left to hold it all together.

Let it be known that I am not a fan of issue novels or books dealing with heavy topics (this is most likely the reason why I tend to shy away from contemporaries). However, I ADORED this book and completely devoured it in no time.

I can click my heels together all I want, but there’s just no place to go.

Jane lives in Missouri in a tiny apartment with her alcoholic mother. Despite only being in high school, Jane’s role is reversed as she is the one who has to step up and get a job in order to scrape enough money together each month to pay to rent and other bills. Unfortunately, her mother has a way of finding Jane’s money stash and it’s not uncommon for her to come home from school and discover the power or water has been shut off.

SO many times throughout The Waiting Sky I wanted to reach through the pages and comfort Jane. Ever since her older brother left she’s only had her mother and that makes it even harder for her to attempt to get her mother the help she needs. Jane gives in and believes every single lie and half-hearted promise from her mother and it broke my heart.

Cat shook her head slowly, her shock beginning to fade. “No, she’s not fine. This is not fine. It’s not okay. You-you almost killed us. Because you were drunk. You picked us up and you drove the car drunk.”

The final straw – at least as far as Jane’s best friend Cat is concerned, happens when all three get into a car accident. All because Jane’s mother was driving drunk. After that Cat, perfect, rich Cat, writes a checklist of things Jane needs to accomplish in order for the pair to remain friends.

Not long after, Jane finds herself in a van alongside her brother and his group of storm chasers as they drive throughout the midwest tracking tornadoes. As emotionally invested in Jane’s home life as I was, I loved this part of the story just as much, if not more.

Jane’s brother Ethan is a part of Torbros – Tornado Brothers, a chaser group founded by, wait for it, two brothers. I loved every last member of Torbros and my only complaint is that I didn’t get enough. I wanted to get to know them more (especially adorable, nerdy Mason!). While I don’t believe The Waiting Sky is the first in a series, I certainly wouldn’t mind reading more about these characters. Each one was wonderfully fleshed out and they had their own personalities and traits – not at all like the cardboard cutouts that litter the majority of YA today.

Also tracking the storms are the Twister Blisters, a rival team and one that has been picked up by a television channel. Their whole entourage – complete with camera crew and shiny, black Escalades – travel from town to town, a constant reminder to Torbros of what they could be one day.

Sometimes I think it’s easier for me to see things, period, if I have the camera in my hand. It’s borderline magical to me, the way a camera can take something that’s ugly – a pile of bills on the counter, say – and just by adjusting the tilt, the zoom, turn it into something beautiful.

After a tornado touches down in a town (and a member of Torbros receives some really awful PR) both groups find themselves working together in order to provide aid and a helping hand. Jane finds herself getting closer and closer to the Twister Blisters’ young intern, Max. Their relationship was a bit rushed, but I didn’t mind it, and it never became overwhelming. Not once did I feel the romance took centerstage while Jane’s relationship with her mother and brother was tossed in a corner.

The ending was also a little rushed and everything was wrapped up a bit too nicely, but ultimately I really, really enjoyed The Waiting Sky.


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