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Stormchasers is a book to put on radar

THE STORMCHASERS by Jenna Blum tells the story of fraternal twins who are fascinated by severe weather, for different reasons.

You can't tear yourself away from the TV.

No, it's not the season finale of your favorite show, or another shock-talk fluff piece you're watching. This is something much more important.

You're watching reds and oranges swirl around a map of your area like a toddler's finger paints. But this is not playtime: radar tells you what you need to know to stay safe from bad weather, and you can't tear yourself away.

You know all too well that weather is nothing to mess with. But in the book The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum, a woman travels into storm country in search of a tornado that tore her heart away.

Karena Jorge hated birthdays.

It wasn't that she was getting older. No, each successive birthday was just another reminder that Charles was missing. It had been decades since she last saw him, but no matter how much she searched, Karena's twin brother had disappeared.

But Charles wasn't dead. She knew because of the postings he made on a stormchaser online message board, and she understood that he was chasing.

All his life, Charles was fascinated by severe weather. His childhood bedroom was plastered with pictures of tornadoes, some of which he had taken himself. He knew more about meteorology than most weathermen, but it wasn't just a personality quirk. Charles suffered through periods of obsession and mania, and he'd spread the suffering to the whole family.

Now, Charles and Karena weren't just twins. Because their mother had died of lung cancer years ago, their father was near-incoherent from a stroke, and their stepmother was a Black Widow, Charles was the only family Karena had, and vice versa.

So when she hit upon the idea to write an article for her employer, a Minneapolis newspaper, Karena joined a tour group of stormchasers and hoped it would lead straight to Charles.

But somewhere between North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma's panhandle, Karena met someone who knew Charles and who agreed to help find him, and she started to fall in love. But could learning to trust again alter a secret that she and Charles shared, or would everything be destroyed in a hail of confession?

Looking to weather your summer with a little bit of reading? Although it sometimes felt just a tad too long, The Stormchasers is a pretty appropriate book.

With an air of authenticity borne of deep research, author Jenna Blum sends her main character (and readers) through the midst of devastation, which will make your heart pound. Bracketing that, the story moves back and forth in time to explain the relationships between Karena, Charles, and their parents -- a part of this novel which is richly detailed but sometimes too much so.

Blum also includes the ubiquitous romantic thread here and, while it seemed contrived at first, it ended up to be just right.

Overall, if you're looking for a decent book for a rainy day, this one promises fair skies. Now out in paperback, The Stormchasers is a book to put on your radar.


Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of the Detroit Lakes Newspapers book review column, "The Bookworm Sez." Schlichenmeyer has been read-ing since she was three years old, and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,000 books.