Written by Nicole Melleby
Algonquin Young Readers, 2019
Nicole Melleby’s debut novel, Hurricane Season, is a gentle look at love and life in all its messy complexity and hopeful beauty.
It’s been just Fig and her dad since she was a baby, and that’s fine by her. Fig knows her dad, a brilliant and once-famous pianist, has his bad days – days where he can’t get out of bed or where he’s so excited he’s liable to wander off in the middle of hurricane season. But she also knows how much he loves and cares for her, even if she can’t understand his artist’s mind.
Fig, whose always loved science, decides to sign up for an art class her sixth grade year, hoping it will help her understand her dad better – his extremes, the mystery and magic he finds in a storm-churned ocean and in music. But things go terribly wrong when her father shows up at school, confused and panicked, and Fig’s art teacher calls social services about his behavior.
Now, with hurricane season approaching – her father’s worst time of year – Fig must try to keep her father safe from the storm, both literally and figuratively. And that might mean admitting that she can’t do it all alone. Reluctantly, Fig accepts help from her best friend and a kind new neighbor who both help her find the resources she needs to understand her father better, and help her father find the help he needs to heal.
Hurricane Season is a beautiful look at several aspects of life: coming out, mental illness, adolescence, pain, fear, rejection, and overall — hope.
There were a couple points in the book that felt a little too cliché with the perfect resolutions all tied up in a bow, in a way that wasn’t realistic to life. I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t go into specifics, but overall, these issues were minor and didn’t take away from the strong, clear voice of Fig and the journey of self-discovery she’s on, and her father’s battle with mental illness. This book is not only beautifully written, but important and poignant for any middle grade reader trying to find their place in the world, and certainly for anyone who has/had a parent with mental illness.
At its core, this is a story about love: the magic of a first crush, the mystery of unexpected love, the unbreakable bond between parent and child, and the struggle to accept each other – and ourselves – for who we are.
This review originally appeared on NetGalley. I received a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review of this title.
Photo by Alisa Williams.
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