Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Changes in the Weather by Leela Marie Hidier

Changes in the Weather is a young adult novella about climate change told in four distinct voices. In "Wind" a hurricane forces Isla's family into a nomadic motel existence. Prolonged drought in "Earth" sucks the life blood from the farm of Ava's grandmother. While in "Water" too much rainfall threatens Xenia's riverside town.  The aftermath of "Fire" leaves Natasha to nurture her younger siblings while their mother undergoes surgery. In each story a teenage girl finds herself in a new role as climate disaster upends her life. Although the book is a work of fiction, it rings all too true to life right now.

Debut author Leela Marie Hidier, a teenage girl herself, did a phenomenal job in distinguishing the voices of her protagonists and making them and their environment believable through well observed sensory details, secret thoughts, and solid climate research. Each of the girls has a unique personality and family situation which shape their differing responses. Coddled Isla uprooted from her nurturing neighborhood becomes rebellious. Privileged Ava tries to escape into a romantic oasis. Alienated Xenia seeks solace in music. Steady Natasha records every detail like a reporter. Their struggles to adapt to the rapidly changing world make for compelling stories, both personal and universal, which all interconnect in the satisfying concluding segment. 

The writing was strong and clean, packing an emotional punch from the first chapter. Here's Isla on abandoning her only home in a hurricane: "I wonder what else I would have taken if I'd had more time. Maybe I would have taken more time."

Author photo by Winky Lewis
The publisher and sponsor of this marvelous debut is The Telling Room, a non-profit organization which supports emerging young writers in Maine with a diversity of experiences. Leela was born in London to an American mother and a French father. I first connected with her family through reviewing another debut novel, Born Confused, by her mother, Tanuja Desai Hidier. I was delighted when the Hidiers relocated near me in Maine five years ago. Leela asked me to beta read her penultimate draft, and she's done a remarkable job in writing and revising such a polished, meaningful book during her junior year in high school. With a gorgeous cover designed by Leela's cousin Meenal Patel, this 153 page novella would make a fabulous gift for any aspiring writer or climate activist. All proceeds from books sales support The Telling Room.  

Wishing you happy and healthy holidays with lots of time to read good books! I'm currently reading and enjoying The Sentence by Louise Erdrich (literary fiction) and Hija de la Fortuna by Isabel Allende (novela histórica en español.) Follow the link below for more book suggestions from other reviewers. What are your recommendations?

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@Barrie Summy