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I've read many Diane Chamberlain books. I find that they have interesting twists and turns and have an air of mystery about them which I find makes them hard to put down. At the same time they are not too intense or hard going so they are enjoyable and easy enough to read.
Before The Storm is the latest of her books that I have read.
It tells of a boy called Andy who is not like other children. He suffers with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and so has various learning difficulties. He is involved in a terrible fire one evening which kills several people. He is seen as a hero by many as he helped to lead some children to safety, however, this raises questions. How did he know where the safest place was? Is he just unique in his calm, logical way of thinking? Or did he know more about the fire than he is letting on?
The story unfolds in quite a fast way with lots of different elements coming to life such as his father, his uncle, the relationship between them all and his mother and sister. The characters are formed really well, the mother goes back in time to talk about how she met his father and this really helps for you to understand her and where she is coming from.
The story is very interesting, I found myself doubting different characters and wondering who was to blame. I didn't guess any of the plot at all.
I found it hard to put down as there was lots of interesting parts to this story and I wanted to know more. Once I had finished reading it I felt a little sad as I had enjoyed getting to know the characters! I do recommend this book, it is easy enough to read but got lots of interesting twists and turns in it to make you be drawn in.
A close friend gave me this book to read. We both enjoy Jodi Picoult books and she said that this book was written in a similar way, with a moral issue that gets you thinking. I enjoyed her style of writing and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.
Before the Storm is a story about Andy, who has Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, his mother Laurel and his sister, Maggie. There is a fire started at the local church, Andy finds a safe exit and leads other children to safety. But he is then under suspicion of starting the fire. Each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character. The story also jumps from before the birth or Andy to the time of the fire. I enjoyed this style and found it interesting and compelling, and not boring at all.
It was fascinating reading the story from the different points of view of each character. It shows that stories and real life are not always so simple and are portrayed in different ways by different people.
This was the first book of Diane Chamberlain's that I had read. She has a similar writing style to Jodi Picoult. I would still say that Jodi Picoult is my favourite author, but I would like to read other Diane Chamberlain's books.
Her writing style of similar to Jodi's, switching from character to character, between the chapters. She is descriptive and you get a good understanding of the characters and how they are feeling.
I sometimes find books confusing when there are too many characters and sub plots involved, but this book was easy to follow. I really developed an understanding for each of the characters. Although it was difficult to relate to some parts, like Laurel (the mother) drinking while she was pregnant with Andy, Diane describes well the awful situation and isolation that she faces. It was interesting reading the storyline of Maggie, I believe the siblings of children growing up with various physical and mental disabilities are often the ones who are really suffering, with little time or attention for them,
I enjoyed the development of the characters and the twist in the storyline at the end of the book.
This was a very interesting and thought-provoking read, looking at the relationships and dynamics within a family. I would definitely recommend this book to others.
Fifteen year old Andy Lockwood becomes a hero when he manages to lead a group of teenagers from a burning church. Andy has fetal alcohol syndrome and loves being seen as a hero instead of being mocked by his peers and basks in his new found popularity. This adoration turns to hatred when fire investigators discover that the fire was started deliberately and Andy becomes prime suspect after a witness says she saw a boy matching his description pour liquid from a can near to the church and it emerges that Andy has taken to smoking and carries a lighter with him. Did this naïve teenager set the church on fire so he could boost his popularity or has he been wrongly accused?
The story in Before The Storm is told through a number of different voices who each have their own chapters. First we have Andy the developmentally delayed teenager who has a very childlike perspective on the world and a tendency to see things in black and white. Maggie is Andy's older sister, the teenager seems responsible and dependable on the surface but her mother is too busy attending to Andy's needs to notice that her little girl has grown up and needs some mothering too. Laurel is a mother driven by guilt for causing her son's disability and devotes her life to caring for him. Marcus is Laurel's brother in law and a fire-fighter who is torn between wanting to protect his nephew and wanting to bring the arsonist to justice.
It was really interesting to read Laurels voice, I was expecting to dislike a woman who was selfish enough to drink heavily throughout her pregnancy but as the story progressed I started to sympathise with her and see that the situation was not as clear cut as it may appear on the surface. It is very easy to judge a stranger but things often look very different if we can stand in their shoes, a good lesson to learn in life. I found the other characters less well formed and slightly one dimensional. Maggie is a good girl with some secrets of her own and Andy's view of the world was annoying in how simplistic it was. I don't know how accurately the portrayal of FAS was but from experience of interacting with kids with other problems I know that their thoughts and feelings are more complex than those portrayed in the book.
Diane Chamberlain has been compared to Jodi Picoult by some reviewers and I can see a similarity in their writing styles. Both narrate their books through different characters perspective but I much prefer Chamberlain's style, the stories are less controversial and sensational and don't have complicated sup plots and are more character driven. The strength of Before The Storm lies in exploring the relationships within a family unit which is not only coping with one of their members having a disability but is also coping with the death of Jamie which left Laurel a widow and the kids to grow up without a father. Marcus was Jamie's brother and he tries to be there for his niece and nephew even though he has a difficult relationship with Laurel. It shows the kind of relationships which really go on in families where people tread on eggshells and make compromises in order to do the best for the family unit.
I really enjoyed reading Before The Storm, the plot was good as were the family dynamics and the only weakness was the slightly weak characters. The story continues in a second novel called "Secrets She Left Behind" which will be released in August 2010 and I am really looking forward to reading that to see how the family progresses.