Author: Katrina Hoover
Major Themes: Alabama, Disasters, Georgia, Missouri, Storms, Tornadoes
Synopsis: The stories of three deadly tornadoes and the towns that survived them are told in this book.
Hackleburg, Alabama; Ringgold, Georgia; Joplin, Missouri. What do these three towns have in common? All three survived killer tornadoes in the spring of 2011. I can’t say I enjoyed reading a book about trauma that people went through, but I sure found it interesting. Katrina Hoover has done a superb job, once again, of pulling together the accounts people shared with her and creating a cohesive story in Shatterproof.
Hackleburg, Alabama was expecting bad weather on April 27, 2011; one meteorologist said, “It will either be the worst day in history, or nothing.” It became the worst day in history for the inhabitants of the small town, as the storm broke over them in the afternoon. Their lives were never the same again after a killer tornado passed through.
Ringgold, Georgia never got tornadoes. The mountain ridge over the town deflected them, and they believed they were safe. On April 27, 2011, however, the same storm system that roared through Hackleburg hit Ringgold—and a number of residents were thankful they had thought ahead of time about what to do in the event of a tornado.
Joplin, Missouri had normal spring weather on May 22, 2011. In the evening, however, just as the graduation ceremony had ended at the high school, the tornado alarms started blaring. Many people didn’t pay much attention, since this was a common sound—but when they went off a second time, and debris began blowing through the air, people took cover. This turned out to be by far the deadliest of the three giant tornadoes that spring, taking out a hospital and nursing home, as well as many, many houses.
Katrina describes the storms through the eyes of the people who lived through them, switching points of view frequently. It’s very easy to follow, and I quite appreciated the way she described each person’s experience at a given time, then moved on to the next minute or hour. It made the story come to life vividly, but she didn’t give too many graphic details, which I also appreciated.
Scattered throughout the book are boxes of information about tornadoes. That I found fascinating. Did you know that three-fourths of the world’s tornadoes happen in the American Midwest? I didn’t! The science behind that was intriguing. I felt like I learned a lot from this book.
WARNING: A few mentions of injuries suffered by people might be too graphic for children.
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults