we-are-stillFor New Title Tuesday, I chose We are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen.   I wanted something that would rekindle my sentimental side as we draw closer to Valentine’s Day.  This book about college-age students negotiating relationships did the trick.  It also helped that it is set in the early 1980’s and the music references imbue the story with period specific mix-tapes defining the depth of feeling for the other person.  It was when a budding romance could ignite or disintegrate based on compatibility of music tastes instead of a timely emoticon.

  Summary: We Are Still Tornadoes follows a year in the life of Scott and Cath, lifelong best friends who are now separated because Cath has gone off to college, while Scott has chosen to remain at home, where he works at the family business while simultaneously trying to pursue his own passion, which is to be a singer/songwriter in a band. Set in the early 1980’s, the story is told through alternating letters that Scott and Cath are mailing each other throughout their time apart.

Normally, I don’t like stories told in letter form, but Kun and Mullen propelled the narrative forward in such as way that the reader can forgive the narrow format.  This is likely since the friends can share their thoughts in writing, perhaps more clearly and honestly than verbally due to the awkwardness of youth.

As the Publishers Weekly review says, “Playful banter, private jokes, dark family secrets, and major life changes are all explored in the intimate exchanges, with stationery headers subtly denoting shifts in location and circumstance. The effect is a bit like snooping through someone else’s mail as adult author Kun (Everybody Says Hello) and newcomer Mullen craft separate and authentic voices for their protagonists.”

Parents who seek reading recommendations for their children, there are references to sex, alcohol and marijuana use in conversation, but none are graphically described or celebrated.  We Are Still Tornadoes might be on the reading level of some twelve-year-olds, but the content is perhaps most suitable for high school students and older.

It is my hope that We Are Still Tornadoes will remind modern society that relationships with friends and romantic partners are fuller when not reduced to tweets, texts, Facebook and Instagram posts.

A mix-tape is way more dangerous and revealing.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Susan C.

smalleverybodysaysEverybody Says Hello –  Forty-something Sid Straw moves from Baltimore to Los Angeles to start a new job and a new life. Everything would be great if he could just get out of his own way.


The Locklear Letters -Software salesman Sid Straw’s life begins a downward spiral after he writes a series of letters to Hollywood star Heather Locklear, in hopes of rekindling an acquaintanceship with his former college classmate.


A Thousand Benjamins A wistful tale about two sad but funny people, “A Thousand Benjamins” resonates with bittersweet insights. Benjamin Sacks, 40, is a salesman with a tragic past and a recent divorce. Kimberly Cassella is a green-eyed 23-year-old waitress with a secret: a disfiguring heart-surgery scar. Their romance, set in Baltimore, forces Benjamin to confront himself and his feelings about the people in his life.

The Baseball Uncyclopedia a highly-opinionated, myth-busting guide to the great American game – a humorous, non-fiction book about baseball.



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