Algonquin Young Readers
Available May 7, 2019
About HURRICANE SEASON
Fig, a sixth grader, wants more than anything to see the world as her father does. The once-renowned pianist, who hasn’t composed a song in years and has unpredictable good and bad days, is something of a mystery to Fig. Though she’s a science and math nerd, she tries taking an art class just to be closer to him, to experience life the way an artist does. But then Fig’s dad shows up at school, disoriented and desperately searching for Fig. Not only has the class not brought Fig closer to understanding him, it has brought social services to their door.
Diving into books about Van Gogh to understand the madness of artists, calling on her best friend for advice, and turning to a new neighbor for support, Fig continues to try everything she can think of to understand her father, to save him from himself, and to find space in her life to discover who she is even as the walls are falling down around her.
Nicole Melleby’s Hurricane Season is a stunning novel about a girl struggling to be a kid as pressing adult concerns weigh on her. It’s also about taking risks and facing danger, about love and art, and about coming of age and coming out. And more than anything else, it is a story of the healing power of love—and the limits of that power.
One of my favorite things about HURRICANE SEASON is the evolution of Fig’s relationship with her dad. At the beginning she really idolizes him and feels super defensive of him, even when he’s doing things that make her life a lot harder. She blames their problems on her teacher who called social services. Or on hurricane season for drawing her dad to the shoreline during its dangerous storms.
As Fig’s dad’s behavior deteriorates and starts to affect her relationships at school, she grows to resent him and his mental health problems. She feels guilty and frustrated at herself, and eventually frustrated with her dad when he’s not able to do things with her that she needs, like going to an art exhibit that’s important to her, or going to her art show at school.
Even as their relationship frays, Fig and her dad continue to share rituals that bond them. I loved their exchange: “I love you.” “Double it.” “Love you, love you.”
And in the midst of it all, a miracle happens. A new person joins their family, and as so often happens when a situation is out of control, it’s that person who helps everyone realize how untenable things have become. I liked this catalyst character in the story, too, though at times he seemed almost too perfect.
I loved the way HURRICANE SEASON used details about Van Gogh’s life and his work to frame what was happening with Fig’s dad and even Fig herself.
Also worthy of note: this is a medication-positive story. Fig’s dad eventually begins taking medication to regulate his mental health, and while the solution isn’t perfect– the story shows some difficulty getting dosage and prescriptions right for him– it’s clear that it makes a positive difference in all of their lives.
Recommended for Ages 10 to 14.
All the major characters are white. Fig’s dad is from London. Fig likes girls. A man begins a romantic relationship with another man.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used once.
Two men kiss. A girl has a crush on another girl.
Note: I received a free copy of HURRICANE SEASON by Nicole Melleby in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links which cost you nothing but which help support this blog.