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Tornado Brain
Cover of Tornado Brain
Tornado Brain
In this heartfelt and powerfully affecting coming of age story, a neurodiverse 7th grader is determined to find her missing best friend before it's too late.Things never seem to go as easily for...
In this heartfelt and powerfully affecting coming of age story, a neurodiverse 7th grader is determined to find her missing best friend before it's too late.Things never seem to go as easily for...
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  • In this heartfelt and powerfully affecting coming of age story, a neurodiverse 7th grader is determined to find her missing best friend before it's too late.
    Things never seem to go as easily for thirteen-year-old Frankie as they do for her twin sister, Tess. Unlike Tess, Frankie is neurodiverse. In her case, that means she can't stand to be touched, loud noises bother her, she's easily distracted, she hates changes in her routine, and she has to go see a therapist while other kids get to hang out at the beach. It also means Frankie has trouble making friends. She did have one—Colette—but they're not friends anymore. It's complicated.
    Then, just weeks before the end of seventh grade, Colette unexpectedly shows up at Frankie's door. The next morning, Colette vanishes. Now, after losing Colette yet again, Frankie's convinced that her former best friend left clues behind that only she can decipher, so she persuades her reluctant sister to help her unravel the mystery of Colette's disappearance before it's too late.
    A powerful story of friendship, sisters, and forgiveness, Tornado Brain is an achingly honest portrait of a young girl trying to find space to be herself.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    prologue

    Myth: Tornadoes only move northeast.

    People used to believe that tornadoes only move in one direction—to the northeast—but that's not true. Sometimes they go southwest. Sometimes they touch down and don't go anywhere, getting sucked right back up into the sky. That's disappointing. Sometimes they zig and sometimes they zag. Tornadoes are unpredictable.

    If a tornado was in middle school, it might get a lot of weird looks from other kids. Its counselor might call its behavior "unexpected." Its mom might try to get it to move in the same direction as the other tornadoes just to fit in. But maybe the tornado doesn't care about fitting in—even if it means not having a lot of friends.

    I can relate because I used to have one friend but now I don't. It's complicated.

    I met her during a tornado.

    It was the first week of kindergarten. My memories from back then are foggy because I was just a little kid and also my memory is weird, but here's how I think it went. Everyone was at recess and I was circling the outside of the play area alone, thinking of roller coasters because I was obsessed with them then, feeling my way along the chain link because I liked the way my fingers dropped into the spaces between the links and the way my hand smelled like metal afterward. Not a lot of people like that smell.

    Sometimes I don't notice things at all and sometimes I notice things too much. That day, I noticed when the wind turbine at the far end of the playground stopped turning. I live in Long Beach, Washington, and it's known for being windy—so windy that there's an international kite festival every August—so when the turbine stopped, it was different. I notice things that are different. The creepy green-gray circular clouds behind the unmoving turbine were different, too. That's called a mesocyclone, which is a word I like.

    I don't know if any other kid on the playground saw the twister fall from the funnel cloud that day. I was probably the only one who was looking up instead of playing tether-ball or hanging upside down from the monkey bars or something. Being upside down makes my head feel funny.

    I watched as the tornado hit the ground and started bumping toward us, tossing things that looked like bugs but were really recycling bins. The emergency system was loud, so I covered my ears. Kids ran inside but I didn't run; I walked . . . in the direction of the tornado. I took my hands off my ears and heard the train sound, far away at first, then louder and louder. The tiny bottom of the tornado got bigger as it collected stuff, pulling up and tossing small trees and even sucking up a utility pole, sending sparks into the sky like fireworks.

    I was sucked up, too—by an adult. He grabbed me and started running toward the school. I watched the tornado rip out the far part of the playground fence, which is probably the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life.

    "What is wrong with you?" the adult shouted, too close to my ear.

    An audiologist once told me that I have better-than-average hearing, so it hurt. If you don't know what an audiologist is, it's a doctor who studies hearing loss and balance issues related to the ears. I don't have either of those things, but still I went to one—along with many other doctors that have ologist at the end of their titles.

    I cupped my hands over my ears, but I could still hear him shouting: "You need to listen to directions! You could have been killed!"

    "It's not my fault," I said. "No one told me any directions."

    I bounced along in the teacher's arms, watching the turbine pick up speed until I couldn't see it...

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2020
    For tornado-focused seventh grader Frankie, "Manners seem like wrapping words in cotton balls." She's known since fourth grade that she isn't like other kids. Frankie's bothered by scratchy clothes, being touched, socializing, change, being different from her twin, Tess, but probably most of all by the end of her only friendship--with Colette, whom she's known since kindergarten. Now Colette has disappeared, and it seems that Frankie was the last person who saw her, but their final contact wasn't a positive one. Colette had turned up unexpectedly and wanted the special notebook that she, Tess, and Frankie had used to document their yearslong game, "dare-or-scare." The police are dismissive of Frankie's realization that after Colette went missing, she posted videos of new "dares." Frankie uses the clues in the videos to launch a search. Tess assists, in the process helping to heal their battered sisterly relationship. Frankie's first-person narration is spot-on as she describes her feelings about her attention-deficit and sensory-processing disorders and her Asperger's syndrome as well as her distaste for the medications that impair her thinking. Her confusion with her own unexpected emotions as she falls for skateboarder Kai--who's just as smitten with her--is poignant. Although all doesn't end well, this moving account of Frankie's emerging maturity--with extra challenges--is perfect. Colette, Frankie, and Frankie's family seem to be white; it's suggested that Kai is a boy of color. An intriguing mystery embedded within a richly insightful coming-of-age story. (author's note) (Fiction. 10-13)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    April 3, 2020

    Gr 6 Up-In this heartfelt coming-of-age mystery, Frankie is a 13-year-old twin from a sleepy, Washington state beach town who has one friend. Or rather, had one friend. Now Colette only wants to be friends with Frankie's sister, Tess. Tess is nice and sociable; Frankie is neurodiverse and struggles to read people. She works hard to moderate her behavior without taking medication, but noises are distracting, emotions are confusing, and even the sensation of clothes can easily irritate her. To Frankie, her brain twists and skips around like a tornado, so she loves learning about them. Tornado Alley is her favorite TV show, and the text is full of facts about tornadoes. Frankie has her routine and she is comfortable with it but then, just before the end of seventh grade, Frankie's world is shaken when Colette goes missing. Despite their falling out, Frankie is determined to extricate the truth from the clues left behind. The writing style in this novel is a bit jarring. It successfully mimics the way Frankie's brain works. The narration feels disjointed and jumps around in order to express the turmoil of Frankie's mind. While it helps the reader understand her, it can be challenging to read. Between this and the length, this is not a book for reluctant readers, which is unfortunate because the appeal is there. The characters are a strength in this story. Being a twin means that, even though Frankie is telling the story, there are two unique points of view presented: her own and Tess's. The different ways in which people can experience anger, hope, fear, and loss are beautifully explored. VERDICT This is an important book for readers and it will be a good general purchase for most libraries serving a middle grade population.-Claire Covington, Broadway High School, VA

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from May 1, 2020
    Grades 6-9 *Starred Review* Thirteen-year-old Frankie (don't call her Frances) is three-times challenged: she has attention deficit disorder, Asperger's syndrome, and sensory processing disorder. She also has just one friend, Colette, whom she met in kindergarten during a tornado. But now, these seven years later, she and Colette have had a falling out, leaving Frankie friendless; well, except for her twin sister, Tess, but she doesn't count. On top of losing this friendship, Frankie has literally lost Colette, who has seemingly vanished. Colette left behind three brief videos that Frankie thinks are clues?only they were posted two years earlier. Or were they? Clearly everything is changing, and an uneasy Frankie declares, Change is my enemy. But, as she continues to search for clues to her former friend's absence, she begins to gradually transform, herself. Will she, in the process, find Colette and, perhaps, a new friend in Kai, a sweetheart of a boy in her class? Patrick handles this material beautifully, and she has done a remarkable job of creating an unforgettable character in Frankie, who tells the story in her own idiosyncratic first-person voice, which takes readers inside her head as she struggles with her many challenges. The result is a tour de force that readers will remember long after they have finished the book.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

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