What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Donna Jo Napoli's Storm mixes the inventive premise of a teen stowaway on Noah's Ark with front-and-center animal sex, more discreet sex between humans, and corrosive sexual tension among Noah's sons and their wives because the patriarch demands that they remain celibate for the voyage. There's some strong language, especially "s--t," as the Ark's denizens produce lots of excrement. Readers may be startled to find Noah's sons calling one another "jerk" and "moron." Sebah is a strong character and a born survivor, able to adapt to fast-changing circumstances and determined to protect her loved ones. The overall message is positive and life-affirming, and readers who know the original account will enjoy the biblical references. But some of them, or their parents, may have issues with the lurid detail.
What's the story?
Sixteen-year-old Sebah is a Canaanite farm girl who lives happily with her family until the rain starts falling, bringing floods that wipe out everyone and everything. Fleeing to high ground in the STORM, she forms an uneasy connection with a boy her age, and together they build a raft. After days at sea, they come upon a gigantic boat, but only Sebah has the strength to climb aboard. There she finds herself surrounded by strange creatures, including an amorous pair of bonobos who befriend her and help keep her safe as she discovers that the other humans on board, Noah and his family, have no place in their plan for any extra people.
Is it any good?
Most of this story takes place in the close confines of the Ark, and the claustrophobic, helpless frustration is reflected in the sometimes slow-moving plot. Best-selling author Donna Jo Napoli has made a career from complex, deeply researched retellings of myths, fairy tales, and historic events. Here, she uses the story of Noah's Ark to examine life, death, and unintended consequences. From survival techniques to ancient social customs, there's a lot of interesting detail along the way.
Sex, and sexual tension, are nearly constant, especially between the two bonobos that befriend Sebah: "I'm no stranger to animal mating -- no country girl is. But this mating is different; Queen and The Male mate at any excuse....They are entirely delighted with mating. Aban might have liked The Male; he looked at mating the same way."
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about flood stories. Why do you think so many cultures over the centuries have had stories about apocalyptic floods -- and why do people today still find them compelling?
What do you think of the ethics of saving a chosen few and letting everyone else perish? Do you think the rules change when there's a crisis?
How has life improved for girls since Sebah's time? How has it stayed the same or gotten worse?