Beyond the Storm, by Carolyn Zane

book coverAfter a tornado rips through her town, store owner Abigail comes across a piece of fabric from a wedding dress among the devastation. Abigail is moved to start collecting other swatches of fabric she finds – her neighbor’s kitchen curtains, a man’s necktie, a dog’s bed – which she stashes in shopping bags. As she pursues her seemingly absurd quest, horrible realities spark the question, “What kind of a God would allow such tragedy?”

As she struggles to reconcile her right to happiness amidst the destruction, Abigail begins piecing together a patchwork quilt from the salvaged fabric in hopes it will bring some peace. But a new relationship with Justin, a contractor, may require too much of her fragile heart.  Will her pain and questions of faith give way to the courage to love?

I’ve never been through a tornado. I pray I never will. Therefore, I cannot even pretend to imagine what such an experience must be like. Carolyn Zane does her best to capture the drama and the result is a gripping read. Beyond the Storm starts before the storm, and makes good use of local radio weather reports to build up the tension. When you’re used to hearing a siren, you get complacent toward it. (It’s like the fire alarms we used to get in the college dorm. They usually just meant someone had burned toast!) No one in the town of Rawston, except newcomer Justin, is concerned about the warnings of thunderstorms and super cells. But the reader knows different, the reader knows something is coming. Through the eyes of several characters, the reader then experiences the tornado as it barrels through the town. Each person is in a different location, wondering if they’ll survive. For some, that results in a substantial life change when they get through relatively unscathed.

As I said, this is a gripping read. As the casualty numbers began coming in, I wondered who made it and who didn’t. There was a sinking feeling as I worked out which character didn’t make it, but Zane also makes the reader question the status of others.   The character of Aunt Selma is used as a teacher, not just in quilting but also when the others ponder the nature of God. My favorite character was Japanese immigrant, Isuzu, who works for Abigail. She’s cheerful and positive, even at the worst of times, and has a habit of saying, “I got wings.” (A reference to the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.)

I don’t do much research of a book before reading it. I go by the publisher’s description of it, and leave the research until afterward. When I saw that this was the first in the Quilts of Love series I wondered which character Zane might focus on in the next book. Sadly for me, the series is being written by different authors and quilting is the only theme common to all of them. So far, there are 16 titles in production and it looks like they’ll be published on a monthly basis.

Publisher: Abingdon Press

Publication Date: 01 October 2012

Page Count: 272

Author’s Website    Series Website   Publisher’s Product Page

Amazon   Barnes and Noble

I downloaded my free copy of After the Storm from Abingdon Press on the NetGalley website. I was under no obligation to write a review.

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