Title: When the Storm Passes
Author: Julie Jett
Major Themes: Joplin, Missouri; Tornadoes
Synopsis: In a few minutes, Avalie’s world is destroyed as a mile-wide tornado rips through her hometown of Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011.
I remember, a few years ago, someone here in New Zealand saying that they had seen on the news that there were tornadoes somewhere in America—they thought maybe in my home state of Michigan. It turned out to be Missouri, an easy mistake for someone to make when they weren’t familiar with the states. I breathed a sigh of relief that the killer tornadoes were not near my friends and family, but the pictures I saw online were horrific and we sure felt for the people of Joplin who lived—and died—through this storm. Then, over the next few years, Joplin became a familiar place as family members wrote about helping rebuild the city, and we saw many more pictures of progress being made there. Still, it was somewhat of an abstract place to me—until I read When the Storm Passes recently.
Thirteen-year-old Avalie Milner has just finished eating dinner on Sunday evening, and her mother is getting ready to go to work as a nurse, when a storm approaches. Avalie and the dog hide under the stairs, but her mother is upstairs and can’t get down in time. When the storm moves on, the house has fallen around Avalie, but she and the dog are rescued. Where is her mother, though? She spends the next several days searching, and hiding from other people who will try to take her somewhere else. What will she do when she finally has to face the fact that her mother has vanished? I really appreciated the way the author portrayed the storm, and the confusion that followed. She did a great job of getting inside Avalie’s head and helping the reader to understand what it is like to go through an experience like this. I would recommend When the Storm Passes to all adolescent girls and women.
WARNING: “Female” subjects are mentioned a few times, so it might not be the best book for young teenage boys to read. One time I noticed a word I’m not comfortable with using. Otherwise, it is quite clean.
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults