Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick

Things never seem to go as easily for thirteen-year-old Frankie as they do for her twin sister, Tess. Unlike Tess, Frankie is neurodiverse. In her case, that means she can't stand to be touched, loud noises bother her, she's easily distracted, she hates changes in her routine, and she has to go see a therapist while other kids get to hang out at the beach. It also means Frankie has trouble making friends. She did have one--Colette--but they're not friends anymore. It's complicated.

Then, just weeks before the end of seventh grade, Colette unexpectedly shows up at Frankie's door. The next morning, Colette vanishes. Now, after losing Colette yet again, Frankie's convinced that her former best friend left clues behind that only she can decipher, so she persuades her reluctant sister to help her unravel the mystery of Colette's disappearance before it's too late.

A powerful story of friendship, sisters, and forgiveness, Tornado Brain is an achingly honest portrait of a young girl trying to find space to be herself.
Life is more difficult when you don't like to be touched, get easily distracted, and have difficulty containing your emotions. It's especially difficult to make friends. Frankie used to be friends with her perfect twin sister Tess and her best friend since forever Colette. But things are different now. After Colette goes missing, Frankie and Tess band together to find her and in the process they'll maybe just understand each other a little bit better.

It took a little while to get into Frankie's perspective but once I did and Colette was deemed missing, the story took off. I couldn't get enough of the fast paced nature of this mystery. I flew through the pages. Meanwhile, I got to know a completely different outlook on life with the struggles Frankie faced daily. She tried so hard to control her emotions like she was taught to but it's difficult for her to not want to scream when she doesn't feel heard. As a main character, Frankie was fascinating. Her POV vs. her parents, sister's, and other around her made me empathetic towards her. How frustrating it must be to try to do better and no one seems to notice. There was a lot of good moments and discussions around being neurodiverse. I especially liked seeing her interactions with her mother and seeing her parenting style with a neurodiverse daughter. The drama and friendship aspect were really well done. I thought it captured the complexities of having friends as a teenager and let's be honest, in life. I enjoyed the facts and myths about tornadoes in the beginning of each chapter. It truly makes me want to read books on tornadoes now.

Tornado Brain had many great things going for it but it missed so many opportunities. I know the main purpose of this book was to get an understanding of Frankie rather than see her grow but it was something that could have been examined to a wider degree. I felt like Colette and her sister were trying so hard to be kind and considerate of Frankie's feelings but she didn't reciprocate. I know by the end of the story, she was sorry for the way she acted but I don't know if she showed it enough for me as a reader. There was also a heartbreaking moment where her mother tells her "Please remember to be kind." and Frankie asks in her head, "Do you think I'm a mean person?" Why was that not explored later on in the story? Frankie obviously needed to have a heart to heart with her mother, but where was it? Lastly, my main criticism of this story is - are you kidding me with that ending? I was getting emotional towards of the end of the story, but then that completely stopped because of how everything was resolved. I don't feel like Frankie even seemed to care because when asked how her summer she responded that it was mostly good. Excuse me? How could it be? I love emotional stories so for me to not like that ridiculous conclusion is saying something. I'm disappointed because I was genuinely enjoying this book.

Tornado Brain creates great discussion around the perspective of a neurodiverse character in a fast paced mystery but ultimately misses opportunities and has a disappointing conclusion.

Release Date: May 5th, 2020

Thanks to Penguin Group (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers) and NetGalley for letting me read Tornado Brain in exchange for an honest review!


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