The Passing Storm by Christine Nolfi (317 pages)
A Tragic Loss Leaves Rae Ready For Quinn
Rae Langdon lives with her widower father in their small Ohio town where everyone knows everyone’s business. While Rae has faced other tragedies in her past, the sudden death of her teenage daughter is unbearable. Having both suffered devastating losses, Rae and her father tend to their farm, using manual labour as a means of catharsis. And with a brutal winter ahead, the work is hard and oddly satisfying. But when Rae discovers that Quinn Galecki, a former friend of her daughters, is being abused by his parents, she has no choice but to take him in.
Rae’s decision isn’t made easily though. Quinn is looked down on in town because of his parents’ reputations as abusive alcoholics. While this description doesn’t apply to Quinn, he can’t escape the stigma. And for Rae, knowing that Quinn and her daughter had a friendship makes seeing him increasingly painful. As the harsh weather of the winter sets in and Quinn, Rae, and her father all get to know one another, we see that each one has something to offer the others that they didn’t know they were missing. With the hope of spring coming, we can see Rae’s grief lightening just a little and become at least bearable enough for her to continue living.
Heavy at Times, But With a Promise of Spring
This story could very easily have been too heavy. The grief these characters feel is expertly communicated almost to a fault; sometimes it’s hard to see how they’ll ever find their way out. But that’s almost the beauty of it. Just like in our own lives, sometimes we realize that it’s actually darkest just before dawn. When we meet Rae, she seems completely broken. Imagining her opening her heart to anyone in any capacity is difficult, but Nolfi takes us on this journey with Rae in a way that feels organic. Quinn is both authentic and resilient given his circumstances, graces we can all aspire to, but will hopefully never have to call upon. Even with the emotional story giving you more than enough to hold on to, Nolfi also weaves in a few surprises that makes The Passing Storm truly riveting, particularly in the second half.
The Bottom Line: 3/5 Brookie Stars
I could not have chosen a better (more coincidental weekend) to read this book. Here in New England, we were slammed by a nor’easter and my town was without power for about 5 days. While it’s not winter yet, it was definitely chilly enough (especially without heat!) for me to bundle up and sit by a window for some natural lighting to read this. While my circumstances are obviously not as bleak as Rae or Quinn’s, my surroundings helped add to the mood. Nolfi works several storylines into The Passing Storm with relative ease which gives readers something to ponder the entire way through. The characters are well developed and behave in ways befitting their grief, but are not mired in it. If you’re looking for something with some emotional heft, this is a good choice for you.
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Rachel Gomes is a 30-something high school English teacher who lives with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their son. Rachel is a voracious reader who loves to learn and has her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. She’s happiest listening to podcasts and talking to friends about the latest news in nerd culture.
Favourite book: Don’t make me choose between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter
Favourite brunch spot: The Farmer’s Table