Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Into the Hurricane

Into the Hurricane

Neil Connelly
Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic, 2017   ISBN: 978-0545853811

When Eli was just twelve years old, his sister Celeste died and he has been living under the cloud of her tragic loss ever since. What makes his already painful situation even worse is that his sister, who was a gentle, kind, and loving young woman when she was alive, is haunting him, and her ghost is spiteful and cruel. As soon they found out about the so called ghost, Eli’s parents did everything they could to help their son. They visited a priest in an effort to exorcise Celeste’s spirit so that she would leave him in peace. When that did now work they sent him to a shrink, who told him that the ghost was just a figment of his guilt-ridden imagination.

Now a hurricane called Celeste is heading for Eli’s island home and his mother is demanding that he get off the island and head for higher ground. The thing is that Eli has no intention of leaving. He is going to go to the lighthouse where he has unfinished business to attend to.

When he gets to the lighthouse he is soon joined by a girl called Max who has green hair and quite an attitude. Neither of the teens are happy to see each other, as both have plans for their lighthouse visits, and those plans did not included having to deal with the presence of a stranger.

Max has driven down from her home in New Jersey so that she can scatter the ashes of her dead father from the top of the lighthouse. In actual fact she has kidnapped his remains because her stepmother wanted to have the ashes interred in a cemetery. Max, who was furious when her father remarried, had no intention of letting her stepmother choose her father’s final resting place. Max stole the ashes and drove south so that she could take him back to the lighthouse, a place where the two of them had once spent a wonderful time alone together.

Unfortunately, Max and Eli’s plans quickly go awry. A group of islanders belonging to the notorious Odenkirk family – whom most people consider to be the local crazies – arrive and they steal Max’s jeep. The Odenkirks are dangerous “Scavengers,” and since at least one of them is armed Max and Eli cannot do anything as they drive away in her jeep.

Many people would just accept the loss and move on, but Max’s father is in her jeep and she is determined to retrieve his urn so that he can be laid to rest properly. Eli feels compelled to help Max and so the two of them walk to the place where the Odenkirk compound is located. Through sheer ill luck they are captured and experience the madness of the family members, in particular that of the matriarch, Mother Evangeline. Mother Evangeline is convinced that running from the hurricane, which is building in strength, is pointless. They should all stay together on the island and accept the “will of God”

Thankfully Charity, one Mother Evangeline’s daughters, is less willing to accept her mother’s  beliefs. She frees Max and Eli, gives them a vehicle (of sorts), and tells them to get to safety. The only request she makes of them in return for her help is that they take a little girl called Sabine with them. Charity knows that she will not be able to take care of Sabine when the hurricane hits and wants the child to be with people who will look out for her.

Using the ATV Charity gave them, Eli, Max, and Sabine head for the only bridge that will allow them to get to the mainland. When they get to their destination they find out that the bridge is raised and they are trapped. Eli is determined to save Max and Sabine so he decides that he will climb the towers of the bridge, get to the other side, get into the operator’s booth, and lower the middle section of the bridge so that they can drive across. He is partially across when a gust of wind grabs him and he is tossed into the water “like a dead leaf.”

With nonstop tension and action, this extraordinary narrative tells the story of how two teenagers survive a hurricane under dire circumstances. It also shows us how anyone, even these two young people who carry such heavy burdens of guilt, regret, and loss, can face their demons and begin anew.

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