Both a haunting coming-of-age story set in North Texas against the backdrop of a deadly tornado, and a character-driven, deeply-affecting supernatural thriller.
In 1979, a massive tornado devastates the city of Wichita Falls, Texas, leaving scores dead, thousands homeless, and nine-year-old Todd Willis in a coma, fighting for his life.
Four years later, Todd awakens to a world that looks the same but feels different in a way he can't quite grasp. For Todd, it's a struggle to separate fact from fiction as he battles lingering hallucinations from his long sleep.
The new friends Todd makes in 1983 are fascinated with his experience and become mesmerized by his strange relationship with the world. Together the five boys come of age during a dark, fiery summer where they find first love, betrayal, and a secret so terrible they agree to never speak of it again.
But darkness returns to Wichita Falls twenty-five years later, and the boys--now men--are forced to reunite and confront the wounds from their past. When their memories of that childhood summer refuse to align with reality, the friends embark upon a search for truth that will threaten their lives, and transform their understanding of each other--and the world itself--forever.
This slow, repetitive novel is part coming-of-age story, part tale of suspense, and about twice as long as it should be. In 1979, a tornado nearly destroyed the Texas city of Witchita Falls and forever altered the lives of five boys. Four years later, each boy now adolescent is still haunted by the killer storm. Strangest is Todd Willis, just awakened from a four-year-long bout of "catatonic schizophrenia" caused by the storm. Despite his lost time, he's oddly mature for his 13 years, making up songs like the eponymous Don Henley tune that haven't been written yet. Another boy writes a short story that summarizes a future Stephen King novel. Under Todd's influence, the boys commit arson but are never caught. Then, 29 years after the tornado, someone starts burning down important locations from each boy's life. Finding the culprit means uncovering secrets from the past. After a promising opening, Cox (Rift) frustrates the reader with repetitious scenes, flat characterization, and frequently awkward writing make this story merely frustrating rather than tense or surprising.