restricted access Storm by Donna Jo Napoli (review)
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Reviewed by
Napoli, Donna Jo. Storm. Wiseman/Simon, 2014. [368p]. ISBN 978-1-4814-0302-3 $17.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12.

The rain starts like any other rain with a dark cloud and a few drops, but then the deluge relentlessly continues. By the third day, sixteen-year-old Sebah has lost her brothers and her home to the flooding; by the second week, she is starving and stranded in a tree until a boy from her village finds her, they build a raft, and he claims her, with her consent, as his wife. By the end of the month, however, he too has been swept away and, before meeting the same fate herself, she manages to climb aboard a giant ark. Yes, it is indeed Noah’s ark and since she’s aware that her status as a stowaway on the ship defies Noah’s plan, Sebah decides her best bet is to hide with the animals below. As the rains continue, however, and Sebah’s belly grows heavy with a baby, her survival may depend on revealing herself. Napoli mines the Biblical story—one of the original apocalyptic tales—to find a different spiritual subtext, transforming it from a tale not about obeying the will of God but about how the very act of survival is sometimes the greatest leap of faith of all. The book depicts Noah as a man struggling with an enormous burden, and his strict reliance on his faith acts as a direct foil to the non-religious Sebah, whose reasons for living are bound both literally and figuratively to the fertile earth (she’s a gardener in addition to being pregnant). There is room, and perhaps requirement, for both types of faith in Napoli’s interpretation, and the ultimate survival of Sebah’s and Noah’s families underscores that message. Fans of Life of Pi will find a similar blend of gritty survivalism and spiritual contemplation in this maelstrom of a tale.