Twins are forced to confront a violent secret from their past in Jenna Blum’s first novel since her runaway bestseller, Those Who Save Us.
How far would you go to protect a sibling—and at what cost to yourself?
In Those Who Save Us, Jenna Blum proved herself a master storyteller with brilliant insight into the spectrum of human emotion. Now, Blum turns her sights to the most intimate and mysterious of family relationships—that between twins—in her powerful and provocative second novel.
As teenagers, Karena Jorge had always been the one to look out for her brother Charles, who suffers from bipolar disorder. But as Charles begins to refuse medication and his manic tendencies worsen, Karena finds herself caught between her loyalty to her brother and her fear for his life. Always obsessed with severe weather, whose wild and magic energy seems to mirror his own impulses, Charles begins chasing storms, and his behavior grows increasingly erratic . . . until a terrifying chase with Karena ends with deadly consequences, tearing the twins apart and changing their lives forever.
Two decades later, Karena, now a reporter for the Minneapolis Ledger, gets a call from a mental health ward in Wichita, Kansas, to come pick up her brother, whom she hasn’t seen or spoken to for twenty years. She soon discovers that Charles has lied to the doctors, taken medication that could make him dangerously manic, and disappeared again. Having exhausted all her reporter’s resources to track him down, Karena realizes she has only one last chance of finding Charles: the storms. Wherever the tornadoes are, that’s where he’ll be. Karena joins a team of professional stormchasers—passionate adventurers who will transform her life and offer her a chance to love and redemption—and embarks on an odyssey to find her brother before he does more damage to himself—or to somebody else.
Somewhere on the High Plains, north of Pierre…
…Karena and Kevin pass a Volvo station wagon parked on the shoulder. It is just like Karena’s at home except it is bright canary-yellow, vibratingly aglow against the storm-blackened sky. A man is standing next to it, beneath a sign that says OWEEO 10 MI. He is wearing shorts and sandals and a T-shirt, and his clothes and hair ripple in the wind. His dark blond hair. His skin darker beneath it. He has a beard, and as the Whirlwind convoy passes he waves cheerfully, his grin a startling white in his tanned face.
“Kevin,” Karena cries. She grabs his arm, making him drop the handset. “It’s Charles! That’s Charles back there! Stop the car, go back!”
She doesn’t dare touch Kevin again, but she implores him with her eyes. She holds her hand up level with the dash to show him how it’s shaking.
“Just for a second,” she says. “Just let me say hello and find out where he’s going, then we can catch up with them. Please, it’s been twenty years!”
Kevin glances at her, his expression flat and tight. Then he swivels to look at the wall cloud, from which a black nub is protruding. Without slowing significantly, he wheels the Jeep around. The tires squeal and smoke and there is the smell of burnt rubber. Then they’re speeding back in the direction they’ve come.
Karena leans forward in her seat as if to urge the Jeep on faster. The sky is a light gray ahead, black in her wing mirror. The Jeep rocks on its frame. The grasses bend toward them on the diagonal, nearly flattened.
“Okay, Karena,” Kevin says, casting quick glances in his rearview and side mirrors, then looking back at the road. “Where is he?”
Because they have reached the OWEEO 10 MI sign and the shoulder is empty. The road is empty. There is no sign of the yellow wagon. There is nobody there.
“Oh no,” Karena moans. “Oh my God.”
She whips around to look in every direction.
“But he was right there,” she insists. “He was!” She shakes her head. “Maybe if we just keep going a tiny bit in this direction—”
“Maybe nothing!” Kevin says. “Maybe he’s not there at all!”
He smacks the dash and Karena flinches.
“I did see him, Kevin,” she says. “I swear.”
“That is not the point,” Kevin roars. “The point is that even if he was there, he’s not there now, and meanwhile we’ve lost the van and we are miles behind them and there’s at least one tornado on the ground between us and them—!”
He is accelerating out of a hasty three-point turn, but suddenly he slows, then brakes.
“Ho-ly Christ,” he says.
“What IS that?” Karena asks and puts a hand over her mouth.
For the highway ahead of them has disappeared into the storm. It is not a tornado, at least not like any tornado Karena has ever seen. It is more that the storm has simply come down onto the ground. The road now runs straight into a churning brown-black mass, a mile-high wall that has swallowed the prairie in front of them.
Excerpt from THE STORMCHASERS by Jenna Blum © 2010. Published by Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA). All Rights Reserved.