Listened: Storm Runners by Roland Smith, 2011, 9780545282857 (CD).
Junior fiction I picked out for Boys #1 and #2 when driving to Champaign. A fun story but the damn thing ended in a damn cliff hanger.
12-year-old Chase Masters travels with his father from natural disaster to natural disaster for construction work. Chase's mom and sister died in a car wreck a couple years ago and shortly afterwards his dad was struck by lightning. After recovering from the lightning strike John Masters becomes an autodidact on weather. John his house, his business and puts anything of value in storage. John buys a couple large trailers, hires Ramos from his old business, and they travel with Chase doing construction work after natural disasters.
Chase has been to three schools in the past year and, unfortunately, has not become closer to his father. They have both become super-prepared and cautious with well-stocked go-bags always with them. They go to St. Petersburg, FL in advance of Hurricane Emily and arrange trailer parking at a farm. The farm is winter quarters for a circus.
Chase meets circus girl and competitive swimmer. John goes 40 miles away where hurricane expected to land. Hurricane hits where Chase is. Chase and school bus blown off a levee into the water. Chase and two girls escape. Bus driver killed. Winds are strong. Chase and co. walk. Levee starts to wash away. Huge alligator. Near drowning. Arrive at circus farm. Mean and aggressive leopard has escaped. Chase and two girls and circus grandmother in strong, steel barn as the hurricane eye passes through and the water level rises. Story ends.
1. A long summary for a 3 hour reading.
2. Facts incorporated into story: hurricanes and dangers, alligators and behavior, safety, circuses, arrogance of local television news anchors.