Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"Night of the Twisters" by Ivy Ruckman

This book is one of Tami's favorites and she mentions it in an earlier post. I am interested in severe weather stories and at her suggestion I read this classic.

Summary: On June 3rd, 1980 seven tornadoes hit in and around the town of Grand Island, Nebraska. This story follows a fictional twelve year old boy as he lives through the storm. It starts in the morning, where you meet his friends and family. Dan is an ordinary boy, enjoying summer vacation at that age where life is really easy, but it doesn't feel easy.

A storm rolls in while Dan is at home with his friend Arthur visiting and Ryan the baby sleeping. Dan's mom has just left to see after an elderly Mrs. Smiley. As the boys try to watch TV, a tornado drops right on top of them. The two boys have to act immediately to save themselves and Ryan, then find their friends and family.

This story is based on true events, key parts taken from interviewing survivors. Ruckman has family living in Grand Island and leaned heavily on their stories along with others. The story as written feels real, and knowing it is based on a true story makes it all the more dramatic.

What I Liked: As this story takes place in 1980, it is fascinating to see how far we have come in communications technology and storm prediction. If a tornado were to hit in my neighborhood today, it is likely I would have much earlier received a personal message on my phone regarding a tornado watch, then warning. I could even look up real time information regarding known touchdowns. But in 1980, there was no meaningful way to anticipate a tornado strike, much less a way to get the word out to people beyond TV, radio and some sirens.

I also liked that the story was written like testimony from a twelve year old. It made me reminisce about summer vacation when I was in school and really made me empathize with someone in the middle of a disaster.

What I Didn't Like: I felt a little silly reading a book for 8-11 year olds.

Rating: Highly recommended.

Also Read by this Author: None.

Reviewed by: Nick

Note: The Family Channel made a TV movie of this book in 1996. It is not a good movie, and it does not use the plot from the book. I do not recommend it.

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