It’s the summer of 1982, and for Scott and Cath, everything is about to change.
Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends for most of their lives. Now they’ve graduated high school, and Cath is off to college while Scott stays at home trying to get his band off the ground. Neither of them realized that their first year after high school would be so hard.
Fortunately, Scott and Cath still have each other, and it’s through their letters that they survive heartache, annoying roommates, family dramas, and the pressure of figuring out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they’ve ever wanted to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should think about being more than friends? One thing is clear: Change is an inescapable part of growing up, and we share unbreakable bonds with the friends who help us navigate it.
We Are Still Tornadoes is a moving epistolary novel that chronicles the lives of two best friends after they graduate from high school and go on to different paths: Cath to college at Wake Forest and Scott to work at his father’s clothing store–and start a band.
I enjoyed this book while I was reading it. It was, at times, hilarious, saddening, and angering. Cath and Scott experience a lot in this one year of their life, and the book is extremely eventful. Unfortunately, though I (generally) liked the characters while spending time with them, I don’t think I’ll find them memorable. While some of their escapades should be relateable to many readers–Cath’s short-term college boyfriends and her potentially crazy first-year roommate–so much of it just seems…passing. I have more memorable stories of weird college roommates from my actual college friends. Because the book chronicles a full year, and readers only see it through letters, I think some of the events don’t quite come alive the way one would wish. I particularly found the end of the book a bit of let-down, in terms of how readers experience certain major events.
I did appreciate that Cath and Scott are uniquely mature. I’m not sure I’ve read another book (or have met living, breathing people), who just say what they mean and point out problems and then solve problems. When Cath or Scott thinks the other one said something hurtful or mean, they say so. And the other person apologizes! If you’re tired of YA books that rely on characters miscommunicating and/or refusing to speak to each other in order to build drama, We Are Still Tornadoes will be a refreshing read.
As for the 80’s soundtrack, which the official summary alludes to, I will say that the protagonists frequently talk music and bond over music with each other as well as with new friends. (Perhaps not surprising since Scott starts a band in the book.) However, personally I am not a big fan of 80’s music, so I can’t say I connected with or was excited by the references in a way that other readers might be. I recognized some of the song and band names, but I was essentially indifferent towards them, and I think I would have enjoyed the book just as much if the characters were into country or classical or 90’s pop music.
We Are Still Tornadoes is a solid book. It’s not at the top of my list of YA contemporaries because I don’t think I’m going to really remember the book or characters a few months from now (It’s not a contender at all for my “best books read in 2017” list in December). However, it’s fun. It’s unique. I enjoyed reading it, and I think a lot of other people will, too.