Title: We Speak in Storms
Author: Natalie Lund
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
Publisher: Philomel Books
Genre: Magical Realism, Contemporary
Goodreads Rating: 3.96 (of 23 ratings)
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A powerful and haunting debut novel about friendship, acceptance, and learning to let go as the balance between the living and the dead is upended, perfect for fans of We Were Liars.
It’s been more than 50 years since a tornado tore through a drive-in movie theater in tiny Mercer, Illinois, leaving dozens of teens — a whole generation of Mercerites — dead in its wake. So when another tornado touches down in the exact same spot on the anniversary of this small-town tragedy, the town is shaken. For Brenna Ortiz, Joshua Calloway, and Callie Keller, the apprehension is more than just a feeling. Though they seem to share nothing more than a struggle to belong, the teens’ paths continue to intersect, bringing them together when they least expect it, and perhaps, when they need it most. Both the living and the dead have secrets and unresolved problems, but they may be able to find peace and move forward–if only they work together.
A beautifully told, haunting yet hopeful novel about pushing past the pain, facing the world, and finding yourself.
Just a quick mention: I’m supremely sensitive to books with disordered eating. I didn’t know that it was going to be included this one, but I went in, still trying to give this a go. The main character that had it was more focused on wanting to feel empty than other reasons for eating disorders. I was able to read through, but I want to make sure others know ahead of time. Please, make sure to read through the rest of the trigger warnings at the bottom of this review since, seriously, there was a lot.
The best way that I can describe this novel is a black and white movie. Seriously, this movie feels like the Wizard of Oz before we went to Oz. It had grit, it had darkness, but there was always shades of light and hope. Whenever I think about it, it definitely feels like storm clouds.
This novel is a bit hard to explain, and I don’t think I could even if I tried. It’s an emotional read, focused on the characterization and their journeys aided by ghosts – figuratively and literally. We take on Joshua (a kid isolated and bullied because he’s gay), Brenna (who doesn’t fit at home anywhere – with her pretentious ex-boyfriend, her mother who she’s always fighting with, or her Mexican family who thinks she will never be enough), and Callie (whose mother is dying from cancer and days are dwindling down). When a tornado strikes on the same day many years later from one that destroyed the town, these 3 teens find each other, themselves, and much more in the aftermath.
I liked the characters well enough. I didn’t love them, but I did root for them. Each had a distinct voice and their own traits. They all had different journeys that they had to go on, and it was intriguing to go on them with them. I can’t say that I have a favorite one that I enjoyed reading, because they were all pretty good and interesting – which is quite good since in stories like this, I usually will favor one.
The writing was pretty good. Since it was a magical realism story, it did have an ethereal feel to it that certainly felt like magic. It was atmospheric, and it certainly brought some fascinating mood. The pacing was a bit off. Sometimes character driven novels can get a bit slower paced, but this one kind of dwindled for far more than I wished. I just wanted something to move along, but it kept felt like we were going deeper and deeper instead of going in a linear fashion. I think that was the biggest issue for me, because I felt like I was stuck in the story instead of enjoying it.
The magic realism elements were done well, and it felt organic to the story. Sometimes I can get a bit lost in elements like this, but I enjoyed these ones. The setting and plot were good as well. And I think that’s the main thing too – everything was just good in this story? Not great? Just good?? I’m running out of things to say because it was just okay??
rating: Belle because it was good but not great
representation: gay mc, m/m romance, half Mexican mc, fat MC
content warnings: omg so many – eating disorder (more about feeling empty than about weight), sex (not quite consensual), mentions of incest/rape, homophobia (includes slurs and violence), violence, racial slurs, dying/death of parent, drugs – and probably more that I’ve forgotten because there was a lot
What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
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