The Stormchasers

Book: The Stormchasers

Author: Jenna Blum

Short Summary:
Flashing back to two decades ago and resuming in the present, Stormchasers is a story of twins pulled together and torn apart by mental illness. Karena and her brother Charles are as close as twins can be, but Charles’ bipolar disorder pulls them both into a tragic situation. After being apart for years, Karena goes on a stormchasing adventure, in the hopes of reuniting with her estranged brother who has always had a passion for chasing storms.

My Thoughts:
After really loving Blum’s first novel, Those Who Save Us, I was expecting a lot from this one. It turns out I like this one, but didn’t love it. The characters were engaging and interesting, but for some reason I didn’t connect with them as much as I had hoped I would. I’m having a hard time describing why that is though.

One thing that stood out to me as a strength in the story was how Blum used storms as a metaphor for Charles’ bipolar disorder. The chaos and unpredictability of the weather were nicely mirrored in Charles’ behavior.

When I read, I always enjoy learning something new. I felt this book gave me a great background on stormchasing, a topic I know absolutely nothing about other than seeing the film “Twister” back in the day. I also learned more about bipolar disorder. This book was extremely well researched and put vivid images of storms into the readers’ heads.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading  fiction about the complexities of mental illness or want to learn about something new. As a side note, this is one of the most gorgeous book covers I’ve seen in a long time!

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Girl in Translation

Book: Girl in Translation

Author: Jean Kwok

Short Summary:
Kimberly Chang is an immigrant young girl who has come with her mother from Hong Kong to America. Living in poverty in the slums of Brooklyn, Kimberly has to work hard to keep up in school by learning better English and at the factory to help her mother raise money. Kimberly struggles to be a great student, daughter, and friend while growing up in a strange place and making decisions that will affect her future.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this one. I loved Kimberly as a narrator and thought she brought a fresh voice to the American immigrant. This book showed the difficulty that a girl like Kimberly must face while trying to fit in to the American culture while also staying true to her mother and her heritage. I found a lot of humor in the misunderstanding of the English language and phrases that Kim had to learn the true meaning of, yet they also showed the difficulty this bright girl faced.

This story also had a lot to say about America and what it means to live here. Kimberly and her mother went through endless suffering throughout the story, and although slightly contrived at times, the effort that Kimberly put in to everything did seem to pay off. It said a lot that Kimberly and her mother chose this country and living in squalor over their lives in Hong Kong for the possible opportunities that were offered.

This book would be a great for book clubs and discussion. I would recommend it to anyone interested in reading fiction about immigration from a first person perspective.

My Rating: 3.75/5 stars