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The Waiting Sky Hardcover – August 2, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-After her mother's alcoholism places her best friend's life in jeopardy, anger and confusion spur 17-year-old Jane to take a summer job away from Minnesota, photographing tornadoes for her brother Ethan's chase team. This is the first time she has left her mother, and she is consumed by guilt and struggling with repressed resentment toward Ethan, who she feels abandoned their family years before. She discovers that her mother's claim to have entered a rehab facility is a lie; things come to a head when her mother texts her that she has come to Oklahoma to see her and is waiting at a nearby hotel. Ethan warns Jane not to go, but she winds up stealing the chase team's van in order to get there. The argument that ensues between them results in Jane's finally realizing that she is actually enabling her mother's addiction. Zielin does an excellent job of describing the reversal of roles between a daughter and her parent, and her portrayal of the mother's ability to manipulate her daughter is spot-on. However, the story falls short when, in a brief ending chapter, Jane has come to a swift resolution of her own issues. While the wild weather provides a telling backdrop to Jane's tumultuous emotions, an attempted parallel between her dilemma and that of a chase-team member who is trying to hide a major tornado phobia, and a budding romance between Jane and a rival chase team member add little to the story.-Cary Frostick, Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA.α(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Compared to the turmoil in her personal life, chasing tornadoes doesn’t seem so crazy to Jane McAllister. After a terrifying traffic accident, caused by her mother’s drunkenness, Jane is sent to spend the summer working with her brother’s storm-chasing team. Away from the burdens at home, Jane struggles to balance her relief and happiness over a blossoming romantic relationship with guilt and worry over leaving her mother. Over the summer, she also works to establish a closer relationship with her brother, whom she blames for abandoning the family when he left for college. Distance doesn’t stop her mother’s emotional manipulation, though, and Jane must decide if she should remove herself from her mother’s vortex. In this powerful read, Zielin deftly pairs the emotional destruction of addiction with the physical destruction of tornadoes, followed by the hope that emerges after the storm has passed. With its strong focus on family and friend relationships, this should find an appreciative audience. Grades 8-11. --Eve Gaus
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (August 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399256865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399256868
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,910,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I write contemporary young-adult and romance novels. By day, I keep the zombie apocalypse at bay. By night, I bedazzle stuff I probably shouldn't. Okay, only one of those things is true.

I'd love it if you stopped by my website, larawrites.com.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lili's Reflections on July 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
If I had to describe this book in one word it would be powerful. Zielin's writing left me breathless as I experienced the chaos of living with an alcoholic through Jane and the ripples it causes through an entire family. This heartbreaking yet wonderful read is not one to miss if you are in the mood for something slightly heavier, though quick and easy to get through.

I have to say that, hands down, my favorite aspect of this story was the tornado chasing. I live in New Jersey, tornadoes don't touch down here, but the idea of chasing them is fascinating. I learned a lot about tornadoes through this novel and was able to experience exhilaration while the Torbros were on the chase. I felt as if I was in the car right alongside them, braving the elements to gain knowledge of the weather that could hopefully save more lives in the future. It's truly fascinating and I'd recommend reading the book just because of that.

But the other strong element of this novel is alcoholism. Jane and Ethan's mother is an alcoholic who steals money and is a compulsive liar. She plays with Jane's head and uses her to clean up all her messes. Jane finally realizes that she can't always be there for her mother after she almost kills Jane and her best friend, Cat, when she drives them around drunk. Jane leaves to Oklahoma to chase tornadoes with her 23-year-old brother Ethan to get her bearings straight, and begins a journey of self-discovery.

The characterization in this novel is strong. I sort of despised Jane's mother because she seemed insensitive, desperate, and manipulative. In the end, I suppose that's what an addiction does to you. Jane begins the story weak and slowly becomes strong.
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Format: Hardcover
People who chase storms have always managed to intrigue me. I'm in awe of their bravery in the face of this crazy chaos that Mother Nature can cook up, but I'm also thinking that they're being reckless and risking their lives. It's a fine line they manage to walk, and I'm certain I'm not the only one who finds the idea of storm chasing absolutely intriguing.

Reading The Waiting Sky actually reminded me of playing Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister last year with one of my best friends. I had barely any idea of what storm chasing entailed, but the game gave me a pretty good idea of what was involved. The book did the same, though there weren't too many storms being chased (which made me all kinds of sad). I got an even better look about what it meant to be involved in chasing storms with a team, including how competitive and scary things could get.

Jane, our main character, has very deep-rooted issues. This comes as no surprise because she's the child of an alcoholic mother. I thought it was very interesting to look at what happens to the people who love and live with alcoholics, as I've never actually read a book about that before. It kind of broke my heart a little to see that Jane felt like she had to be the responsible adult and take care of her mom, who was almost like a child.

Even though it made me mad, I could understand why Jane had such difficulty extricating herself from the situation - she loved her mom and could practically live off the moments where her mom was in control of herself. I really wanted her to let go, for her mom's sake, but it really tore at my heartstrings to imagine trying to distance yourself from someone you love and the reality that you've always known.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been in a huge reading slump lately. Ever since starting college, I just haven't felt like reading - it's been hard to force myself to be anti-social and just read when my friends are right outside my door. But somehow, The Waiting Sky managed to defy my reading-slumpy ways! There was just something about it that made me want to keep reading forever - I locked myself in my room one night and just read. The Waiting Sky reminded me of why I love reading so much, and it made me enthusiastic about bookish stuff again - for that alone, I want to declare my love for Lara Zielin.

Jane is a great main character - I connected with her so easily. With stories like these, it's easy for me to get frustrated with a character that just won't stand up for herself. But with Jane, it works. Her blindness concerning the seriousness of her mom's issues is understandable - I could have easily gotten annoyed by her insistence on trying to save her mom again and again, but Lara Zielin's writing made it work. The portrayal of Jane's journey towards finally understanding that she cannot solve her mom's problems and that she has to take care of herself more than of her mom is realistic and compelling.

We also have a great supporting cast that adds a lot to the story. I loved reading about the brother/sister relationship between Jane and Ethan. Victor is an ass, but his story is interesting to read about, and I loved the parallels between his situation and Jane's. And Cat, Jane's best friend from back home, is the definition of a kickass best friend - that's the kind of friendship I'd like to see more of in YA!

When I first heard about The Waiting Sky, I was wary of the whole tornado storyline.
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