Monday, January 31, 2011

The Stormchasers Review and Q-n-A

The Stormchasers

The Stormchasers
Jenna Blum
373 pgs.

Amazon Blurb -

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. 

I liked this book.  The complexity of the relationship between twins Karena and Charles was fascinating, and at times aggravating.  The fact that Charles suffered from bipolar disorder made it even more intense.  I've always known that twins have this "connection" and to see it explored here as Karena tried to live a normal life with her brother by her side was hard to watch. His mental disorder would through the whole family into such a turmoil, and the fact that he would disappear for days on end chasing tornados made me wiggy.  As a mom, I don't know how I'd handle that.

I found the father a non-entity, and the mom somewhat on the odd side.  I don't know if that was just my perception or if she was that way, kinda flighty, uninvolved.  The fact that they were referred to as Siri and Frank instead of mom and dad throughout the book just compounded that fact.

When Karena tries to reign Charles in during one of his off the hook manic runs, and they are chasing a storm, a horrid tragedy takes place and she doesn't see him for 20 years after he gets put into a mental hospital.  She gets a call from a hospital in Kansas and she flies down to get him, only to find him gone, so she joins a stormchasing tour to try and find him.  Finding love and her brother proves to be the ultimate test of loyalty and trust for Karena.

3 1/2 cannolis


1.    What did you rate the book?  In 1 sentence what was your overall thought.
See above.  It was a good book which made me angry at times.
2.    Who was your favorite character and who was your least favorite?
Both Karena and Kevin were my faves.  I didn’t really have a least but the mom(Siri) upset me some.
3.    Have you ever experienced a storm?  Would you ever go stormchasing?
No and no.  I live in earthquake country and that’s enough for me.
4.    What did you think of Karena and Charles family?  How do you think his Bipolar disease affected them?
Actually I found them somewhat odd.  Maybe that was just my perception, I’m not sure.  The dad struck me as detached, the mom seemed lost uninvolved.  They didn’t seem to know how to handle Charles so they hid it and didn’t talk about it.
5.    How did you respond to Siri as the mom?
She angered me.  I felt she didn’t do enough to help Charles.  I understand the dad wasn’t there, but I got a flighty vibe from her.
6.    How would you describe Karena?
Loyal, loving, kind, strong, tormented.  She had such a terrible weight put on her.
7.    How would you describe Charles?
Torn.  He suffers from this disease that takes hold of him and makes him do insane things, say horrible things.  Yet I think he was just allowed to do what he wanted to do.
8.    Favorite moment(s) in book?
When Karena and Kevin talked in the car.  The beginnings of a relationship are always sweet.
9.    What are your feelings on them being twins, the twindar relationship?
I know twins have a very close relationship, and it can probably be intimidating to the outsider, especially if they’re identical.  I’m sure they do sense things about each other that others are clueless to.
10.    Charles’s bipolar disorder is described throughout the novel as “the djinn,” “the Stranger.” Why does Blum do this? What moment touched you the most?
I think so that it is clear that he is gone when he is in the throes of a psychotic break.  I didn’t have just one moment that touched me, though her not being able to go back into the hospital was very moving.
11.    Do you think Kevin and Karena are a good match?
I do, I think Kevin is a protector and Karena needs that.
12.    How would you handle being in a relationship with someone that had a sibling
with Bipolar?  What did you think of Kevin's reaction?

Kevin was very fair and understanding.  My former son in law is a paranoid schizophrenic and dealing is not easy.  While they are sick, it’s hard to hold them accountable for their actions, yet when they aren’t in a down turn they need to be.  They aren’t dumb or stupid.
13.    Did you note any quotes?  Share with us.
I didn’t have any quotes jump out at me.


  1. Great answers, Paula. I am looking forward to next month's read!

  2. Yes Paula, the fact that they didn't say mom and dad was weird and irritating, ugggh.

    We all gave approx the same rating, interesting.

    I had a Stormchasers company comment giving me their information, lol


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