A strong second novel from bestseller Blum (Those Who Save Us, 2004, etc.).

THE STORMCHASERS

A somber, effective portrait of twins—of the strength they gain and the harm they do to one another.

Karena hasn’t seen her twin Charles in 20 years, since he was 18 and briefly committed to a psychiatric ward for his bipolar disorder. Now on their birthday, it seems both surprising and perfectly natural that she should receive a call from a mental-health clinic in Kansas. After years of trying, she has found Charles, the joyous other half of herself, and also the source of her guilt. She leaves Minneapolis the next day but is crushed to discover he’s checked himself out. As Charles is a lifelong stormchaser (in fact his published photographs of tornados are the only evidence Karena has had over the years that he’s still alive), Karena decides to join a storm-chasing tour. A staff reporter for a Minneapolis paper, Karena uses the story she is writing about summer stormchasers as a cover to question everyone she meets for information on Charles. Along the way Karena begins a relationship with Kevin, one of the tour operators, who was once close friends with Charles but, like Karena, was banished when Kevin had Charles hospitalized for dangerous behavior. Kevin and Karena survive an almost fatal storm, and just as the tour ends, there’s a miracle at the end of the rainbow—Karena finds Charles, who was close by all the time (in fact, during his 20-year absence he has kept tabs on Karena) and ready to go home. The narrative steps back to their 18th birthday and the events that drove them apart—his mania and suicidal depression, a storm, an accident, a murder, a guilty secret that has haunted them for 20 years. Charles’ storminess (he imagines his illness like a storm, a natural, neutral phenomenon) is beautifully rendered—Blum offers a meticulous portrait of bipolar disorder and the heartbreaking damage it does to those it affects.

A strong second novel from bestseller Blum (Those Who Save Us, 2004, etc.).

Pub Date: May 27, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-525-95155-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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THE GREAT ALONE

In 1974, a troubled Vietnam vet inherits a house from a fallen comrade and moves his family to Alaska.

After years as a prisoner of war, Ernt Allbright returned home to his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni, a violent, difficult, restless man. The family moved so frequently that 13-year-old Leni went to five schools in four years. But when they move to Alaska, still very wild and sparsely populated, Ernt finds a landscape as raw as he is. As Leni soon realizes, “Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now. If you wanted to pray to a weirdo god or live in a school bus or marry a goose, no one in Alaska was going to say crap to you.” There are many great things about this book—one of them is its constant stream of memorably formulated insights about Alaska. Another key example is delivered by Large Marge, a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who now runs the general store for the community of around 30 brave souls who live in Kaneq year-round. As she cautions the Allbrights, “Alaska herself can be Sleeping Beauty one minute and a bitch with a sawed-off shotgun the next. There’s a saying: Up here you can make one mistake. The second one will kill you.” Hannah’s (The Nightingale, 2015, etc.) follow-up to her series of blockbuster bestsellers will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet–like coming-of-age story, and domestic potboiler. She re-creates in magical detail the lives of Alaska's homesteaders in both of the state's seasons (they really only have two) and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America.

A tour de force.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-312-57723-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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