Algonquin Young Readers
May 7, 2019
Blurb: For Fig’s dad, hurricane season brings the music.
For Fig, hurricane season brings the possibility of disaster.
Fig, a sixth grader, loves her dad and the home they share in a beachside town. She does not love the long months of hurricane season. Her father, a once-renowned piano player, sometimes goes looking for the music in the middle of a storm. Hurricane months bring unpredictable good and bad days. More than anything, Fig wants to see the world through her father’s eyes, so she takes an art class to experience life as an artist does. Then Fig’s dad shows up at school, confused and looking for her. Not only does the class not bring Fig closer to understanding him, it brings social services to their door.
As the walls start to fall around her, Fig is sure it’s up to her alone to solve her father’s problems and protect her family’s privacy. But with the help of her best friend, a cute girl at the library, and a surprisingly kind new neighbor, Fig learns she isn’t as alone as she once thought . . . and begins to compose her own definition of family.
Nicole Melleby’s Hurricane Season is a radiant and tender novel about taking risks and facing danger, about friendship and art, and about growing up and coming out. And more than anything else, it is a story about love—both its limits and its incredible healing power.
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
I feel like I should highly recommend Nicole Melleby’s Hurricane Season and tell you that it’s an important middle grade novel that deals with mental illness and its ramifications for an eleven-year-old girl and her famous composer father. Because certain sequences put me on edge and by the end of the novel I realized that I didn’t actually like any of the characters, I can’t offer a wildly glowing review.
As I mull the events over, I guess one thing that bothers me is that Fig’s father didn’t become ill overnight. Events seem to happen in a vacuum. Doesn’t Fig have grandparents on either side? Sure, maybe her mother couldn’t live with her father, but why would she leave Fig with him? All the neighbors ignore the father’s behavior. People talk about it. Gossip about it. But no one worries about Fig. No one does the right thing. Only one concerned teacher involves herself.
On the flip-side, let me point out the good stuff.
I found Fig’s obsession with Vincent Van Gogh interesting, in a good way. Can’t you just see that in the cover art, which I love, by the way? The writing flows well and the pacing is on target. Fig’s obsession leads her to paint a splendid expression of her relationship with her father.
One of the best aspects of Hurricane Season is its honesty and handling of mental illness. It isn’t cured overnight. It isn’t a weakness.
Besides the mental illness issues, Fig discovers that her father is bisexual as she discovers that she has feelings for girls. While I love that the LGBT issues are dealt with without judgement, I found it a little unbelievable that both father and daughter would realize their sexuality in the same week. But it’s fiction so it doesn’t have to be entirely credible, right?
I will mention that alcohol shows up at a party for 6th and 8th graders. I’m not sure why this was included. Hopefully it has not become customary for 8th graders to drink beer at parties.
The suggested age level for Hurricane Season is 9-12 while the grade level is 4-7. You are probably the best judge as to whether this is a suitable novel for your child, or you.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.