This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life
I received an advance reader edition of this book from Algonquin Books and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
I am going to be completely honest. I have had a very hard time deciding on a rating for this book. I thought parts of this book were wonderful, but I really question why the book took some of the turns that it did. I requested this book right away when I saw it on Net Galley because I have become quite intrigued by tornadoes in recent years. I live in Missouri where tornadoes tend to hit every year. A tornado actually hit my subdivision a few years ago which was way too close for comfort. I am so very thankful that nobody was hurt in the tornado that hit so close to my home.
Jersey is a teenage girl who lives with her mother, step-father, and sister Marin. On what seems like a regular day, Jersey stays home while her mother takes Marin to dance class and her step-father Ronnie is at work. While she is alone, the tornado sirens go off and Jersey makes her way to the basement. As she hides under a pool table, her house is torn apart. When it is over, she emerges from the wreckage to find her neighborhood has been destroyed.
The first third of the book deals with the tornado and the immediate aftermath. I found this to be the best part of the book. Everything rang true to me. I think the author captured the panic, fear, and uncertainty that comes with this type of catastrophe.
Jersey is finally reunited with her step-father, Ronnie but the reunion is not what it could have been as she learns that her mother and sister did not survive the tornado. To make matters worse, Ronnie decides to send her to live with the father she has never known.
At this point, the book takes a turn that makes no sense to me. Why send her away to live with a group of drunken rednecks? She loses her mother, her sister, her home, and now she has to sleep on the porch? Really? I really think that this book would have been much better if we could have watched Jersey mourn and rebuild in her hometown with her step-father.
After she runs away from her father's family, Ronnie picks her up and drops her off at her grandparents' home. Jersey's mother was estranged from her family and Jersey has never met her grandparents. It quickly becomes obvious that her grandparents do love her and together they start to heal.
The last part of the book where Jersey moves in with her grandparents is much better than the middle section of the book. With her grandparents, Jersey starts to mourn and heal. I liked the characters of her grandparents and the love they felt for Jersey seemed so very real.
All things considered, I enjoyed this book. While I found the section of the book that had Jersey living with her biological father ridiculous, the beginning and the end of the book made up for it.