Three outcast teens come together when a tornado stirs up literal and figurative ghosts in their small Midwestern town.
In 1961, a tornado touched down at a drive-in movie in Mercer, Illinois, killing almost all of the town’s teenage population. Half a century later, that loss still haunts Mercer’s residents, and when another tornado strikes the same location, the current batch of teens are especially rattled. There have always been rumors that those killed in the old tragedy remain in Mercer as Storm Spirits, and three misfit high school students think they might be starting to receive the spirits’ messages. Joshua, who feels invisible at school due to his weight and sexuality, teams up with Brenna, whose contentious relationships with her family and a toxic ex-boyfriend compound the loneliness she feels as a Latina in a predominantly white community, and Callie, who has slid into an eating disorder as her mother’s terminal illness progresses. The three share alternating point-of-view narration interspersed with a Greek chorus of the Storm Spirits’ collective voices. Joshua, Brenna, and Callie are all sympathetic characters, but their slow-burn story is smothered under the weight of ponderous, self-serious narration. An incest survivor is deeply othered. All three teens’ “Very Special Issues” are too tidily swept away when their drawn-out conclusion finally arrives. What starts as a delicate ghost story ultimately collapses under its own slow weight.
Too much dead calm, not nearly enough storm. (Paranormal. 12-18)