I was drawn to the story because of two things… tornadoes and Nebraska.
This is the story of the Jones family and their (fictional) hometown of Emlyn Springs, Nebraska. When tragedy strikes on a stormy summer night, each family member’s life takes a profound turn. This story recounts the years before a tornado touched down in their beloved town and describes the resulting aftermath.
I’ve heard it said that you are who you are either because of your parents or in spite of your parents. It’s hard to tell when it comes to the Jones siblings. The eldest, Larken, is a professor of art history at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Big Red!), Gaelan is a popular weather personality, and Bonnie, the youngest, remains in Emlyn Springs, searching everywhere for the legacy of their mother, Hope, who went up in a tornado when they were children and whose remains have never been found. Their father, Llewellyn, has been just as absent from their life as their mother, as he busied himself as the town doctor and mayor. His death also takes place in no less meteorologically spectacular fashion than his wife’s.
There are many more layers to the Jones kids than I can describe here, of course, but Stephanie Kallos does a fantastic job of matching the sibling phobia to the predominant event. The reader also gets to know Hope through diary entries as her body slowly succumbs to Multiple Sclerosis.
While the book is very well written, it is very long and tangential. I’ve been told that anything that does not move the story forward or explain something, should be cut. There is a lot of that. But Kallos also must’ve done a great deal of research on art history, meteorology, piano making, neurological disorders, and Welsh tradition, and it shows in her characters’ knowledge. Tavia Gilbert is an excellent narrator and I would love to hear her read to me again sometime.
Goodreads rating: 4 of 5 stars