It took a LONG time for me to fall in love with the Jones family. In the beginning of the book you meet the father on his last day. Ignoring the warning from his common law wife, Viney, and his own common sense, he goes golfing during a thunderstorm. And, you can guess what happened when he lifted his club to the sky.
After his death you meet his three children who each face daunting problems in their own lives. None of them are in committed relationships, the oldest two have addiction problems (one with food and the other with bodybuilding), and they all wonder (especially the youngest) what happened to their mother in 1978 when she went up in a tornado and never came back down.
At the beginning of the book, I was frustrated with the children. I wanted them to fix their lives and just be better! It was hard to trudge through the beginning as the children came home to say goodbye to their father.
But, eventually, you get to hear Hope’s voice. Hope is the mother who went up and through her journal entries you meet her, experience pieces of her life, and just love her. She goes a little crazy after her first miscarriage, but you quickly forgive her.
The other characters I could have done without, but I am so glad that I got to know Hope. And yes, at the end of the book it is FINALLY revealed what happened to her during the tornado of 1978. It’s a quick entry so no skimming if you want to find out!
Here’s some more information from Amazon: Hope Jones, Nebraska mother of three, is whisked away by a 1978 tornado, her body never found. The novel opens 25 years later, when Hope’s children—grown but not grown up—gather for their father’s funeral after he’s killed by a lightning strike. Llewelyn’s death is one of many quandaries haunting his children: daughter Larken, an overweight professor beset by fear of flying; son Gaelan, a television weatherman with too many women in his life; and the youngest, Bonnie, who stays in Emlyn Springs working odd jobs. Alvina Viney Closs, Hope’s best friend, also has issues to resolve. Themes of family bonds and conflicts, secrets and sorrows also marked Kallos’s debut, and this time she weaves in an idiosyncratic view of the role of the dead in the lives of the living, sharp takes on business, academic and sexual politics, and a palpable empathy for small Midwestern towns.