Cover Image: What Storm, What Thunder

What Storm, What Thunder

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Member Reviews

This is an amazing book. It made me cry multiple times, made my heart race, made me care about so many of its characters. It's the story of the 2010 Haitian earthquake as experienced by a community of people connected to a community in a small corner of Port au Prince. 

The beginning and ending of the book work perfectly together and are the best parts of it. So that left me wanting more  - more of this tug between modernity and tradition, more of those traditions, more of Ma Lou and Jonas who are the real glue of the story. That is what keeps it from being a five star for me. It's one of those books you love, but at the same time somewhat grieve what it nearly was. 

It gets bogged down by side characters in the middle, like we follow the ripples of Ma Lou and Jonas from person to person until we've gone too far astray and are unmoored. I lost track of all the characters and their relationships for a bit, and many seem divorced from the rest. Also, Anne's character in general and her integration into the plot in particular seems forced, like she doesn't quite fit but not in a way that lends what it could to the narrative. These characters are here to make important social and political commentary, but what happens instead is that gets declared in ways that don't need the characters to embody it, or it gets elided. Meanwhile the heart of the story is dropped for a very long time and important meat to it is left out completely. 

This feels like it could have been a series, not unlike the soap operas the community gathers to watch, where each smaller web gets it's due consideration, while being connected to the main story. Alas, this is just not used as it could be in general fiction like it is in genre fiction. I want to know all of these characters better and feel the full impact of their lives through the tragedy.

Thank you to Myriam J.A. Chancy, Harper Collins Publishers, and Netgalley for an advance ecopy in exchange for an honest opinion.
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In 2010, an earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, killing an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 people. This vivid novel explores this time period via different characters’ stories, which intersect with one another and together tell a larger tale of the human struggle to survive amidst unimaginable tragedy. There is the elegant and mysterious Sonia, who is determined to avoid the humiliations her mother faced working as a housecleaner for wealthy families; Richard, an expatriate bottled water executive living in France who sends money home for his daughter’s education; Sara, who struggles to hold onto her sanity after her young children are buried under fallen buildings; Taffia, who was raped in the displaced persons’ camp that sprung up after the earthquake rendered so many homes uninhabitable; and Ma Lou, the market woman who witnesses everything. Masterfully written and unforgettable, this nuanced work brings to light the complexities of this tragedy specifically, while offering much insight into the more longstanding challenges that Haiti has faced throughout history.
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What Storm, What Thunder focuses on nine characters and their lives  following a devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010.  This was definitely not an easy read. I was so submerged and invested in this story,  I found myself in the center of each and every characters’ s pain and struggle. Sara really had my heart in a vice grip, I just don’t know what I would’ve done with myself, if I was in her shoes. I kept finding a little piece of me in Sonia for some reason and Ma Lou is definitely my favorite character, she reminds me so much of my grandmother. 

I recommend anyone to pick up the physical and the e-book. I honestly didn’t care to much for the audiobook because I just couldn’t get past when the narrator try to speak Creole it kind of threw me off. 

Overall Myriam JA Chancy crafted this novel so beautifully heavy and masterfully highlighted the Haitian culture. What Storm, What Thunder is Haiti.

Thank you Tin  House for my final copy
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I already have plans to potentially use this book for my book club once its old enough to get through Interlibrary Loan. I think my patrons will love it, and we'd definitely have a lot to talk about. I absolutely loved the vignette style to this, as a way to examine the depths and extent to which the earthquake impacted so many peoples' lives. This is definitely a book that I would say has been "crafted," and I enjoyed it immensely. Heartbreaking and beautiful.
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I was blown away by this book. I did not know what to expect going in - I only vaguely knew that it was about the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. I fell in love with the narrative style, which jumps from person to person, following a loosely connected cast of characters one by one on the day of the earthquake, as they reflect on their lives up to this point and narrate what their experience of the earthquake is. The author's ability to get inside the minds of such a diverse cast of characters is astounding and impressive. I never felt like this book was trauma porn; on the contrary, I felt like this book truly captures the traumas and realities that the characters experience, both related to the earthquake and otherwise. I will be recommending this book to everyone!
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Beauty can be found in the prose of this book. Chancy really made me want to not put the book down. Every chapter was gripping and just like a storm and thunder. Must recommend!!
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WHAT STORM, WHAT THUNDER is a must-read tribute to the victims and survivors of the 2010 Haiti earthquake in novel form told through evocative and lyrical, yet respectful prose. Full review on Instagram @movedbyprose.
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Myriam J. A. Chancy's What Storm, What Thunder is a novel of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The fact that Haiti is just now recovering from another, equally disastrous earthquake makes this already-poignant title even more compelling.

Each chapter of the book is narrated by a different character: a market woman; a prostitute in a high-end hotel; an international business man; a young woman in a working-class family; a Haitian woman working for an NGO in Rwanda, who returns in response to the disaster; an emigree living in the U.S.; a boy who runs errands of all sorts before and after school to earn a bit of money. 

At first this mix of characters confuses. They're all connected in one way or another, but those connections aren't immediately clear. The counter-balance to that is the way the book becomes more and more compelling as the reader comes to see the nature of the community made up of these varied narrators.

Chancy spends ample time in the voice of each narrator, letting readers become immersed in their inner and outer lives. The action is slow, but given how challenging day-to-day life is for most of these individuals, even before the earthquake, that slowness is part of an ongoing struggle that erits documentation. 

I strongly recommend What Storm, What Thunder given its timeliness and range of viewpoints.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher; the opinions are my own.
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5/5 stars. Loved to see the story unwind and learn how all the characters were related to one another, and how we learned more about people from others' narratives. Truly beautiful writing and storytelling, I'll read anything by Chancy now!
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Oh what devastation. Have mercy. Oh what horror.  Have mercy. How does a body, a mind survive the destruction and aftermath? Within the pages of What Storm, What Thunder are the stories of those who survived the massive earthquake in Haiti in January, 2010 and those who did not. So much suffering, so much despair, too much, too much. 

Poor Jonas who only has enough money to buy one egg today for his mother, Sara, but she is to be denied even that. She has lost her children - what defined her.  Olivier, Sara’s husband, has his reasons and his part of the story -his ultimate failure is to not to himself. Sara is to be denied everything. 

Ma Lou tells much of the story and while her losses seem insurmountable her spirit is a guiding light for many. She remembers a son, Richard, who has surpassed his surroundings and family and left them behind - he fails - in the end he is rejoined to his beginning. 

Dieudonne’ smelled the disaster in the air before it came to pass. Sonia, beauty and grace, desired by many has always turned to him depending on his knowledge and certainty. Together they see the God of Death and are unable to prepare and later wonder why they were spared. 

Interconnected - Sonia’s sister Taffia, brother Paul and Aunt; Richard’s daughter Ann; Dieudonne’s distant cousin Leopold; Didier, living in Massachusetts driving a cab trying to play his music, not being able to contact his brother and sisters in Haiti not knowing if they survived - all their stories are told in detail. Their backstories, their relationships, their accomplishments and failures all laid out as are their deaths and survival. All told in exquisite prose describing the frailty of life, remembering that one catastrophic event, the struggle for survival and believing that the only way forward is to embrace the gods that had not harmed you.

Powerful, masterfully written, reminding the reader that everyone matters, then, now, always. Thank you NetGalley and Tin House for a copy.
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These interconnected stories of the Earthquake in Haiti shows the heartbreaks and tenacity of the victims and survivors.
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The stories within What Storm, What Thunder encompass such a huge range of human emotion and experience. From faith, compassion, and perseverance to absolute devastation and despair. This book is primarily about survival, not only on a physical level, but how to sustain a life, a family, and a community in the face of a disaster. As I read What Storm, What Thunder I was most impressed by the strength of these characters. They learn what it takes to survive, and even how to help each other in circumstances that I can't even imagine. 

The setting is both difficult, but also vibrant. The message is clear and ultimately wonderful. Myriam Chancy is a writer of spectacular talent, choosing to tackle the huge emotions inherent to this story. It is executed wonderfully, effectively, and memorably.

I found an urgency to this book, having an opportunity to read it immediately after the most recent earthquake and storms to hit Haiti, an occurrence eerily reminiscent of the setting of the book. This story made me understand and feel what the survivors of this recent disaster are facing in a way that made a deep connection.
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I hope to have the opportunity to select this book for the library book discussion group I lead. I love the way the characters' stories interweave, how family and class affects their lives, and the hold-your-breath tension of the earthquake scenes. I highly recommend this novel and author Myriam J. A. Chancy. 

I am a library paraprofessional and received an advance copy from #NetGalley. Opinions are my own.
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This was a solid 3.5-4 for me. The interconnected stories with the horrific Haitian earthquake as a common point was heartbreaking and effective. Though the characters are heavily influenced by the earthquake, the book as a whole doesn't read like a book about the natural disaster. While the event ties them together and leaves a strong impact, each character has a voice and story that is unique to them. Although the characters were well-developed, I did find it a bit overwhelming at points because there were just so many of them.
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