The Mercy of the Sky is the harrowing inside account of Oklahoma's deadliest tornado, penned by a local writer who became a national correspondent.
Oklahomans have long been known for their fatalism and grit, but even old-timers are troubled by the twisters that are devastating the state with increasing frequency. On May 20, 2013, the worst tornado on record landed a direct hit on the small town of Moore, destroying two schools while the children cowered inside.
Oklahoma native Holly Bailey grew up dreaming of becoming a storm chaser. Instead she became Newsweek's youngest-ever White House correspondent, traveling to war zones with Presidents Bush and Obama. When Moore was hit, Bailey went back both as a journalist and a hometown girl and spoke with the teachers who put their lives at risk to save their students, the weathermen more revered than rock stars and more tormented than they let on, and many shell-shocked residents. In The Mercy of the Sky, Bailey does for the Oklahoma flatlands what Sebastian Junger did for Gloucester, Massachusetts, in The Perfect Storm, telling a dramatic, pause-register story about a town that must survive the elements - or die.
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I was hooked the whole time
I really enjoyed this book and could see myself listening to it again. My mom joined me in the car one day, and I couldn't wait to hear what was going to happen to the characters next so I asked if she'd like to listen. She was sad she wouldn't get to hear the rest of it!
I enjoyed the surprise of getting to hear about the history of weather forecasting in addition to stories from the tornado. Being an Oklahoman, I'm familiar with the weathermen mentioned and found their stories interesting. But I also enjoyed the stories of the people who lived through the storm.
I do wish the author had broken the stories up a little bit more in timeline form. I did find it mildly emotionally exhausting to relive the tornado over and over again, and I had trouble figuring out what was happening at what time in relation to everything else. My mom and I (even in the short time she listened to it) found it really annoying how frequently the author uses the word "tiny" to describe things. Every town to her that isn't Oklahoma City is a "tiny town". This was really annoying because the towns she described as tiny really aren't that tiny at all, and it makes me wonder what word she'd use to describe the smaller ones. Probably "tiny" because it's her word of choice.
All that being said, once I was able to get over the author using several words repeatedly, the story was very fascinating, and I was hooked the entire time.
This book can't get out of its own way.
Neither was particularly enthralling.
A generally fascinating subject but incapably handled by the author who spends chapter after chapter mired in irrelevant nuance that has little or no bearing on the actual disaster. She spends the first SEVEN chapters discussing only the career progressions of every major Oklahoma meteorologist from 1930-2000, and even that could have been at least mildly interesting, but instead its a dull uncreative recital of worn out cliches. And also, why must Tornados always 'churn'?!