Jules is just an ordinary high school girl. She's on the cheerleading squad with her two best friends, dating a football player, and taking life none too seriously. But a typical night out in her small town turns terrifying in an instant, and when the tornado has passed, nothing will ever be the same again.
The Verdict: Simply incredible. Jules is leading the life of a rather typical teenager in small town, Texas, when one awful night changes everything. The tornado that rips through town catches everyone by surprise, killing classmates Jules had seen just seconds earlier, destroying their school, wrecking local businesses, and leaving Jules shell-shocked and falling apart on the inside.
I don't think I've ever read a more terrifying scene than when the tornado was bearing down on them. One minute they were foolish kids gathered at a local hangout, and the next they are scattering, running for their lives as the world around them seems to implode. The aftermath, while less traumatic, is no less difficult.
Jules's boyfriend missed those terrifying minutes and is spared the nightmares that follow, driving a larger wedge into the small rift that was already beginning to show. But West, the boy who led Jules to safety and was trapped with her for hours afterward, understands. As they lean on each other more and more, old feelings resurface, and an incredibly sweet romance takes root.
Their story is told in flashbacks as an older Jules records her story on video, and through these scenes the emotion is practically tangible. Raw and overwhelming fear, confusion, crippling grief and guilt… It's all there, laid out so clearly and painfully that it's impossible to put the book down. But there is a sense of safety and hope with West, and Jules clings to him long after the storm has passed.
The romance is sweet and slowly paced, so it feels natural and real. And, unlike so many other stories of teen romance, there's no extra drama thrown in for little more than entertainment value. Recovering from the loss of so much is more than enough, and watching these two kids find their way through it together is just lovely. In a way, From the Wreckage shows how among tragedy and loss, love is a resource for survival, how even in grief, teenagers are especially resilient and capable of creating hope.