Tornadoes aren’t supposed to happen in Hitchcock, Massachusetts.
When a tornado unexpectedly strikes her small, largely white town, Maddie is at a sixth-grade end-of-the-school-year dance watching her crush, Avery, dance with new girl Gabriella. Soon the dance ends amid the realization that the storm has caused serious damage; Maddie learns that her house and Avery’s are among those destroyed. Maddie’s dog, Hank, is missing, in part because in her excitement, Maddie failed to bring him inside before leaving for the dance. It’s a strong setup, and Bishop narrates smoothly in the third person from Maddie’s point of view, but the story struggles to find its identity in the aftermath of the storm, as Maddie’s middle school–relationship angst garners far more coverage than the disaster. The friendship story competes with the tornado and the missing dog, which is one plotline too many for this novel. It also struggles with pacing, as Maddie and Avery’s significant conversations are punctuated by lengthy intervals, sapping the story of much-needed urgency. These are quibbles next to the failure to evoke the mammoth sense of upheaval a tornado strike wreaks in real life.
A readable novel that won’t linger long in anyone’s memory. (Fiction. 8-12)