we are still tornadoes book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

We Are Still Tornadoes is written entirely in letters. It is classified as a Young Adult read, but hits on the older end of the spectrum, as the characters have just begun their first year of college after high school, on the edge of turning 19 years old. The novel is set in the early 1980s, making the letter style normal, as the characters do not have much access to technology.

The book is just short of 300 pages, but there is plenty of white space due to the letter format. There is plenty packed into the letters filling out the story nicely. The story is entirely told with letters to and from two characters: Cath and Scott. Cath and Scott grew up across the street from each other in a small town in Maryland. Their parents know each other, they have many of the same friends. After high school, Cath goes to college and writes to Scott from Wake Forest University. Scott has stayed back from college and works at his father’s clothing store. The story is told entirely between the two characters making them the only voices in which the entire year is narrated.

Through the letters, Scott keeps Cath informed of the events she’s missing back at home, while Cath’s letters show Scott all that he’s missing out on being away at college. As the letters and time progress, they realize just how much they rely on each other to get through both good and bad times. They help each other through mid-term exams, failed relationships, family issues and other events that change them over that first year after high school. Scott and Cath cope with being apart for the first time, navigating adult life and discovering ways to support each other through it all. Scott decides to start a band and writes songs that he sends to Cath in the letters. They talk about the music of the 80s throughout: Elvis Costello, English Beat, Michael Jackson, and many others. There are many 80s references throughout.

Kun and Mullen did a great job with the book–it is well written, funny and entertaining. Despite there being two authors, the novel is cohesive and an enjoyable read. It’s a quick read due largely to the letter format. The book is making rounds on many YA best seller lists, and this is a must read for many, especially those who enjoy this genre.

Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.