Review: We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen

Title: We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Historical (80s), Young Adult, Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


It’s the summer of 1982, and for Scott and Cath, everything is about to change.

Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends for most of their lives. Now they’ve graduated high school, and Cath is off to college while Scott stays at home trying to get his band off the ground. Neither of them realized that their first year after high school would be so hard.

Fortunately, Scott and Cath still have each other, and it’s through their letters that they survive heartache, annoying roommates, family dramas, and the pressure of figuring out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they’ve ever wanted to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should think about being more than friends? One thing is clear, Change is an inescapable part of growing up, and we share unbreakable bonds with the friends who help us navigate it.

This funny, extraordinary, and deeply moving book—set to an awesome ’80s soundtrack—captures all the beautiful confusion and emotional intensity we find on the verge of adulthood…and first love.


We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen is a humorous, poignant and heartwarming novel.  Set in 1982, lifelong friends Scott Agee and Cath Osteen exchange letters as Cath goes off to college while Scott stays in their hometown to work in his family owned clothing store.

Although Cath is excited about attending college, she is a little homesick as she settles into dorm life.  Through her letters to Scott, she fills him on her somewhat quirky roommate, freshman shenanigans and her surprisingly close friendship with Jane.  From her first college romance to struggling to keep up in her classes, she humorously and sometimes sarcastically keeps her best friend apprised of everything going on her life.  Her letters take on an unexpected serious tone as her first holiday visit home approaches and Cath finds out unsettling, life changing information about her parents.

Back home, Scott is adjusting to working in the clothing store and while he is not exactly overjoyed with his career path, he is appreciative that working with his dad has improved their relationship.  With self-deprecating humor, he minimizes his decision to coast through high school but as the months pass, he is rather contemplative as he tries to understand why he chose not to focus on going to college.  Forming a band with some of his friends provides Scott the opportunity to try his hand at songwriting and they reach a measure of success performing gigs at local establishments.  While the majority of his letters are light-hearted and humor-filled, they become much more serious after an unexpected loss.

Although Cath and Scott do talk on the phone and see one another in person, these events are only referenced during letters they write after the fact.  Their letters occasionally cross in the mail so there are a handful of slightly confusing out of sequence exchanges but the next letter helps make sense of things.  The more serious aspects of their correspondence are deftly balanced with their playful banter and  personal jokes.  The occasional misunderstanding sometimes leads to angry exchanges but their longstanding friendship easily survives these squabbles.

An absolutely charming novel with a nostalgic vibe due to music references, mix tapes and letter exchanges, We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen has a refreshingly unique storyline and a wonderful cast of characters. While the overall tone of the novel is upbeat, Cath and Scott also undergo serious, life-altering events that strengthen their friendship.  All in all, it is a captivating read that I absolutely loved and highly recommend to readers of all ages.

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1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Historical, Historical (80s), Michael Kun, Rated B+, Review, St Martin's Griffin, Susan Mullen, We Are Still Tornadoes, Young Adult

One Response to Review: We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen

  1. Timitra

    Sounds interesting…thanks for the review Kathy