Wide Blue Yonder

Wide Blue Yonder

A Novel

Book - 2002
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A 1999 National Book Award finalist for WHO DO YOU LOVE, Jean Thompson towers into the stratosphere with her new novel, WIDE BLUE YONDER. It is the summer of 1999, and something big and bad is coming to Springfield, Illinois, 'the place the Weather lived.' WIDE BLUE YONDER is a novel about weather in all its permutations, climatic, emotional, even metaphysical. Our guides through this season of blazing heat and fearsome storms comprise an unlikely quartet, each preparing in some measure for the end of the world. Uncle Harvey believes he is the Weather Channel's 'Local Forecast.' Yet even an arsenal of meteorological facts and figures can't stanch his existential fears. Harvey's niece, Josie, is fixed with a different predicament. She's seventeen with nowhere to go in the Land of Lincoln except into deep trouble. Josie's mother, Elaine, feigns cheerful efficiency, desperately masking a far more urgent quest. And then there's the loner Rolando, who hails from Los Angeles. A human storm system fueled by boundless rage, Rolando is on course to make Springfield the ground zero of his wrath. Newsweek's Jeff Giles memorably described Thompson's previous collection, WHO DO YOU LOVE, as 'a
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2002
ISBN: 9780743205122
Characteristics: 367 p. ; 23 cm


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Oct 16, 2014

Jean Thompson approaches Wide Blue Yonder the way she has The Year We Left Home and The Humanity Project with multiple points of view. There’s Josie, a lovesick teenager girl, her mother Elaine suffering from mid-life crisis, great uncle Harvey, a severe mental breakdown leaving him mentally challenged and obsessed with the Weather Network, and the marginalized Rolando, a misfit, a loner, petty criminal and a blossoming schizophrenic.

The story develops from these disparate personalities, examining their various stages and status in life and the tension builds as these lives converge towards the story’s climax.

Thompson’s characterization is superb. She creates characters that stay with you. They become like acquaintances and they’re remembered like someone you’ve known.

What really makes this novel remarkable is her examination of mental illness from the benign Uncle Harvey to the ferocious Rolando. She doesn’t describe how they appear to others but how the world appears from the point of view of those afflicted.

The challenge with developing a story with multiple points of view is bringing it all together so the ending seems inevitable. Wide Blue Yonder’s ending with the best-case scenario being played out for all those involved smacked of Pollyannaism.

Still, this book is more than a worthwhile read for all its positive attributes.

sharonb122 Aug 01, 2013

I enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting and the main characters were well portrayed. It was hard to figure out what Rolando was doing and why. The plot kept moving along and was exciting toward the end. Lots of humor! Really liked the teen, Josie. Though I didn't do the things she did, I remember feeling like she did. The relationship between her and Uncle Harvey was very well done and sweet (as was Rose and Harvey), I felt it illustrated that sometimes the young and the old relate better than we realize. the ending was good in that it was not unrealistic.


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