Title: Watches And Warnings
Author: Ryan Wolf
Publisher: West 44
Release Date: 1st August 2019
BLURB from Goodreads
Sixteen-year-old Philip is the son of two Evangelical youth pastors. He also secretly helps his older brother pay for his heroin addiction. When a massive tornado touches down in their small town, Philip's family becomes heavily involved in the post-disaster cleanup as Philip struggles with the return of his detoxing brother. With his life swept into sudden chaos, Philip grapples with questions that cut him to the core.
The cover is fairly simplistic in its design, the blue background to represent the sky with the “twister” or “cyclone” being the main focus which the book plot is about. Though there is also the plot line of Victor and his drug abuse too. The genre’s listed for this book are Poetry, Teens & YA. I am not a great reader of poetry but I read this book and quite enjoyed it. I think it will certainly fit the “reluctant reader” category at schools. Though it will, in my opinion be suitable for older perhaps reluctant, or lower level readers too. I love reading a short book, all in one go sometimes and this one fit that bill perfectly for me.
Sixteen-year-old Philip is the son of two Evangelical youth pastors. He also secretly helps his older brother pay for his heroin addiction. When a massive tornado touches down in their small town, Philip's family becomes heavily involved in the post-disaster clean-up as Philip struggles with the return of his detoxing brother. With his life swept into sudden chaos, Philip grapples with questions that cut him to the core.
The main character is called Philip, a 16 year old boy who works for his neighbour, Mr Gregor, at the weekend to earn himself a little money. Philip’s parents are youth pastors at the local Evangelical church. Philip has an older brother called Victor, but he no longer lives at home as he has a drug addiction problem. Unbeknownst to his parents, Victor has kept in touch with Philip. In fact, Victor regularly meets up with Philip. Philip keeps the meetings secret from his parents knowing that they will not approve. Philip also keeps the amount he receives as wages quiet, as he hands over half of it to his brother, thinking it will help him.
There’s a severe weather warning so those that can take shelter do, be it in basements, cellars, under a table, wherever they think will keep them safe.
The book goes on talking about the destruction and aftermath of the storm. Philip’s parents of course have obligations to fulfil at their church and obviously go above and beyond to help those less fortunate than themselves. They open their church to those whose houses have been flattened or are no longer habitable because of the storm. Around all this going on, Victor turns up at his parent’s house and they accept him back, but they are determined to help him keep clean and free of drugs. Naturally things don’t go to plan.
Obviously, I liked the main character of Philip, even if he is rather naïve thinking he is helping his brother by giving him money that his brother immediately spends on drugs. On one hand Philip is feeding his brothers habit though on the other by giving Victor money, Philip is preventing Victor stealing or mugging someone for the money to buy drugs.
Whilst Philip is the main character, I also really grew attached to Mr Gregor despite him not being in the book that much. Mr Gregor helps Philip by employing him to help audit and re-arrange his cellar. You could say that Mr Gregor is a prepper, he has plenty of provisions should there be severe weather or in fact some sort of “end of the world” catastrophe. Despite others in the area thinking Mr Gregor a bit strange, Philip gets along with the older man. Mr Gregor is a rather sad, lonely man, having lost most of his family and not ever really getting over it.
This book is labelled as a Hi-Lo book, which basically means “high interest”, lower (easier) reading level. I think books like this are the way forward to encourage both youngsters to read and for adults who maybe didn’t read so well when they were younger to get more reading practice and gradually a higher reading level. Readers of all ages need to be encouraged, not put off.
To sum up, I did enjoy the book, both its content and styles. It worked really well as a great short story. There was enough going on to hold your interest without there being too much going on to keep track of the book. I will certainly check out other books written by this author in the future.