Jersey Cameron is a typical sixteen-year-old from a blended family in a Missouri town. She has a five-year-old often-annoying half-sister, Marin, who her mother has just taken to a dance lesson, and Jersey is home alone when a tornado strikes.
The first couple days after the twister are harrowing. Jersey doesn't know where any of her family are, so she sticks close to her ravaged home. Later she learns her mother and sister died, and her stepfather is too devastated to care for her. He sends her first to her birth father's family, a bunch of stereotypical hicks. That doesn't work out, so she's sent on to the maternal grandparents she's never met.
Through Jersey's thoughts and observations during and after the storm, author Jennifer Brown (who also writes women's fiction under the name Jennifer Scott) makes the reader see and feel the heartbreak and devastation of the tornado. Especially poignant are the little pictures and captions Jersey draws of Marin on gum wrappers from gum in Marin's Mom-castoff purse.
The purse is one of the few things to survive the storm, along with a porcelain kitten, one of many Jersey would receive in the mail on her birthday that she assumed were sent by her estranged father. You can probably guess who really sent them.
The book ends on a hopeful note. The book is suggested for ages 12 and up, and I certainly think it's appropriate for middle school and high school - as well as adults.
© Amanda Pape - 2014
[I received an advance reading copy from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. It will be passed on to someone else to enjoy.]