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The Stormchasers Hardcover – May 27, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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The Eagle Tree
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Blum (Those Who Save Us) visits Tornado Alley in this vivid novel about a set of twins with a dark history. At home in Minnesota, Karena Jorge gets an unexpected call informing her that her twin brother, Charles Hallingdahl, whom she hasn't seen in the 20 years since something went very wrong during a storm chase, has been admitted to a Kansas mental hospital. Charles suffers from rapid cycling bipolar disorder, and all Karena knows is that he refuses medication, he can be a danger to himself and others, and he is still obsessed with storm chasing. When she rushes to the clinic and finds he has already left, Karena joins a professional storm-chasing tour company, hoping to find her brother in the caravan of watchers who follow major storms. In the course of the tour, Karena confronts the past and the way it has shaped her life. The unpredictable and dangerous storms provide a framework for an exploration of the bond between siblings (and its limitations), and Blum renders the stormy backdrop as richly as she does her nuanced characters. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Twins Karena and Charles share an unbreakable bond—and a devastating secret. Twenty years ago, 18-year-old Charles, who suffers from bipolar disorder, and his sister were out storm chasing when they collided with a motorcyclist. The two swore to each other they wouldn’t report the deadly incident to authorities; after all, they were legal adults and could do serious prison time. In the years that followed, the siblings disappeared from each other’s lives. Karena pursued a career as a newspaper reporter. Charles endured stints at various mental-health facilities and fed his true passion: chasing storms. (He always said that his mental state was akin to a tornado: terrifying and unpredictable as it spun out of control.) When Karena receives a distressing phone message about Charles, she ventures into the eye of the storm—literally—to find him. Blum (Those Who Save Us, 2005) intertwines two narratives: Karena’s search for Charles (and induction into the wild world of weather) and her recollections of their rocky childhood. The tales work together nicely in this moving, if occasionally overwrought, novel. --Allison Block

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (May 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525951555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525951551
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,965,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've never quite understood those insanos who find fascination in chasing a dangerous storm, but now I do. Jenna Blum's The Stormchasers, left me with a rich understanding of the kind of people this hobby attracts and it's not who I thought. Originally, I thought of the Midwestern surfer types who have no ocean, and the washed up scientists hunting for the 'big storm' like a data junkie. The movie Twister already covered that. But Blum's book delves beyond those silly stereotypes to provide a rich community of those who love to be humbled by the raw animal nature of god-like lightning and who get excited by the earthy smell of ozone in the air.

By the last storm, I realized I was completely hooked on chasing down that big storm.

I was surprised by the richness of this metaphor in exploring one of the main character's mental problems. At first, I was like, wild storm = charismatic, crazy guy. Got it. But then as we learn more about the enigmatic Charles through the eyes of his sister Karena, the complexity of the storms matches suit. I was delighted to peel layer of layer off the metaphor to see more similarities between Charles and impenetrable storms. I have never understood the power and chaos of a bipolar disorder.

I expected a romance in the book, but I didn't expect to enjoy it so much. The character of Kevin is completely believable, huggable, and as square and wonderful as you could imagine a high school science teacher to be. The chemistry between Kevin and narrator Karena is really fun to watch unfold, answering the aging-old question, how do you flirt when you're over 30? Fascinating and playful.

I loved Blum's first novel, Those Who Save Us, and was appropriately horrified by some of the sad and beautiful descriptions of brutal inhumanity. I did not know if Blum could pull off writing about a subject with less wild drama than the Nazis.

Turns out, she can.

Read this.
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Format: Hardcover
This story follows two sibling though the ups and downs of life when one that you care about suffers from a destructive disorder. I've read and enjoyed Jenna Blum before and I really admire how well-written her works are. The story is told in parts: present and then a peep at the past. The science of tornadoes and information about the chasers are enlightening but not overwhelming.

I didn't want to love this book but I couldn't help it. In fact, my paperback copy no longer looks like new because I was gripping and bending it as I was reading it. I felt like I was there and felt the gamut of emotions that accompanies that feeling. As I followed Karina and Charles through the roller-coaster that is their relationship, I felt just as invested. I love how realistic this novel is. While there isn't a cliffhanger, it doesn't have a neat ending. I loved everything about these characters and I'm not sure what I would have done in their place. I had a bipolar student in one of my classes and as I read this novel, I realized how little I understood this disorder. If anything, I minimized it and that sticks with me a bit.

This is another instance of a book that I would initially shy away from as too serious but at the end I couldn't believe it was over and I was so glad that I read it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book was not on the same level as Blum's previous work, Those Who Save Us. Although I enjoyed this narrative well enough at the beginning, the middle really dragged, and the ups and downs of reading about Karena dealing with obstinate Charles (the twin with severe bipolar illness) wore me out and ultimately bored me.

Although the metaphor of stormchasing and bipolar "storms" was apt, the relentless reminder to the reader of how Charles' illness affected his sister was overdone. I think most readers will be able to predict the outcome of the story once the "secret" is revealed. I did, however, enjoy the technical information about the development and science of storms, particularly tornadoes, since I live in the Midwest where this type of weather is common and often destructive.

Another reviewer has remarked about the fact that the two men in the book rarely use Karena's name. Her brother (and twin) calls her either "K" or "sistah", and her boyfriend refers to her as "Laredo" or some other term. I also found that annoying. I really never felt that I got involved with the characters in this novel -- they were very one dimensional and I found myself becoming irritated at times rather than empathizing with their plight. I was basically just glad to get to the wholly anticlimactic end.

I will wait patiently for Blum's next novel, and see if she can revert to the quality storytelling that made me a fan when I read her first book. Overall, just found The Stormchasers only mildly interesting, a bit disappointing, and would tell those who ask, "It's OK."
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jenna Blum has a gift for revealing character in the way one peels away the layers of an onion; slowly, allowing the reader to examine the rings that make up each character's past, and to see how and why they have become the people they are. Best of all, her characters are real; nobody bigger than life here -- just regular human beings, warts and all, struggling through life the best they can. I appreciated being able to identify with very human characters who recognize and acknowledge their flaws without wallowing in them, and bravely soldiering on with the business of life.

Using this technique, Blum offers us an engaging portrait of a pair of twins tied together by their own love, the parental affection and connection withheld from both, and a horrible secret that both hang onto because it keeps them attached, at the same time slowly killing their souls.

I bought this book for its basic premise, knowing I would get some authentic descriptions of the adrenaline-fueled nature of severe storm chasing on the Plains. Those were in abundance, but I kept reading even after the storms were over, because by then I was hooked on the story and wanted to know what happened to the characters.

I found the abbreviated lingo shared by stormchasers and the fond nicknames between Karena and her brother and Karena and her boyfriend added realistic intimacy to the relationships. Having my own experiences with bipolar people, I found Blum's evocation of the depression and manic episodes frighteningly accurate. Her limning of the ways in which living with a mentally ill person can twist and destroy those around him was equally spot-on.

In all, a memorable read that will stay with me for years to come, and a must-read for any fan of storm chasing.

Mary A.
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