We Speak in Storms

Philomel. Sept. 2019. 464p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525518006.
Gr 9 Up–Everyone who grows up in Mercer knows the Midwestern town is haunted. People hear whispers from the teenagers who died in the tornado back in 1961, see strange lights at the cemetery, hear creaking and scratching in old houses, and swear that the crow that visits is the spirit of someone long dead. Here, three teenagers feel disconnected from their own lives. Joshua, who once was bullied for being overweight, dreamed of coming out and being a voice for the LGBTQ youth in town. Instead, he becomes an invisible pariah. Brenna has grown up hearing that she is not enough. Not Mexican enough for her abuela, white enough for Mercer, or clever or interesting enough for her boyfriend. Callie’s mother is dying of cancer, and this once-bright track star has retreated deep within, trying to empty herself so she doesn’t have to feel her overwhelming grief. When a tornado touches down on the anniversary of the big storm of ‘61, Callie, Brenna, and Joshua are drawn together by their longing for connection—a longing powerful enough to call to the dead. Despite their differences, these three characters are able to find their true selves with one another in this hauntingly atmospheric coming-of-age story. While the pacing starts out slow, dedicated readers will be rewarded with fully realized characters, an empowering message, and a highly satisfying conclusion. Readers should note, the book contains references to anorexia and bulimia.
VERDICT This sophisticated ghost story is recommended, especially where novels about grief are needed

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