Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 9781481403023, 368pp.
Publication Date: February 11, 2014
Other Editions of This Title:
The rain starts suddenly, hard and fast. After days of downpour, her family lost, Sebah takes shelter in a tree, eating pine cones and the raw meat of animals that float by. With each passing day, her companion, a boy named Aban, grows weaker. When their tree is struck by lightning, Sebah is tempted just to die in the flames rather than succumb to a slow, watery death. Instead, she and Aban build a raft. What they find on the stormy seas is beyond imagining: a gigantic ark. But Sebah does not know what she’ll find on board, and Aban is too weak to leave their raft.
Themes of family, loss, and ultimately, survival and love make for a timeless story. Donna Jo Napoli has imagined a new protagonist to tell the story of Noah and his ark. As rain batters the earth, Noah, his family, and hordes of animals wait out the storm, ready to carry out their duty of repopulating the earth. Hidden below deck…is Sebah.
About the Author
Praise For Storm…
4Q 4P J S
Napoli, Donna Jo. Storm. Simon & Schuster, 2014. 368p. $17.99. 978-1-4814-0302-3.
While living peacefully in Canaan, sixteen-year-old Sebah spends her days cultivating bean pods for her brothers to sell in the market. One day, it begins to rain and it does not stop. The flood takes her home and the lives of her family members. To escape the rising waters, she climbs higher through the mountains, clinging to tree branches and surviving on the meat of animals that float by. Her only companion is a swamp kit until she crosses paths with Aban, another survivor. Together they work to protect and feed each other. When the waters reach their highest, Sebah and Aban are forced to flee their shelter in a tree and float on a makeshift raft. Aban becomes increasingly weak and survival seems hopeless until one day, their raft becomes snagged on a rope. At the other end of the rope is a boat of behemoth proportions—an ark. Sebah’s only choice is to climb the rope to save their lives. What she does not know is just how different life is about to become.
In this retelling of the biblical tale of Noah’s Ark, Napoli takes readers on a journey of “what if.” What if others had survived the flood, too? Most of the story takes place in a single setting, the ark; however, Napoli is able to keep the momentum at a swift and sometimes frightening pace. What happens inside the ark seems greater than what is happening outside of it. Readers will feel all the anxiety, anticipation, fear, and hopelessness along with the people confined to the ark. The strained relationships among those aboard the ark are just as fascinating as the relationships between the humans and the animals. In the end, a global tragedy brings about enlightenment in ways unexpected by the characters. This is a tale of survival, empathy, and having faith.—Erin Segreto.
Young, newly pregnant Sebah manages to survive the great flood on a small raft before she bumps into
Noah’s humongous ark. Crawling into a porthole for safety, she finds herself in a cage with a pair of
bonobos who care for her and hide her from Noah and his family. While trapped aboard, Sebah feels the
despair of a ruined world and the stir-craziness of confinement right along with all the animals, with whom
she deeply empathizes. But in the midst of the hopelessness of the deluge, Sebah delights in the
playfulness of her animal friends and the affections of a handsome fellow stowaway, and she resolves to
look forward to the future, despite the grief for the life she left behind. Napoli (Skin, 2013) draws from the
book of Genesis for a basic outline, but she takes ample liberties with the rest of the story, presenting an
obstinate, guilt-ridden Noah and an angry family resentful over their wretched circumstances, all through
the eyes of a clever, headstrong young girl who learns to thrive on hope.
The rains come without warning, and before 16-year-old Sebah can do anything to stop it, everything in her life is swept away by the flood --- her family, their farm, their home and the Canaan that she knows. The storm rages on as she climbs to higher ground with a scrawny kitten named Screamer and a fisher boy named Aban, all three sustaining injuries and near-starvation as they try to build a life together in a doomed world. Sebah, Screamer and Aban slowly weaken as the rain pours ceaselessly on and the water levels rise. But even the highest cedar trees cannot keep them above the rising waters forever, and even the raft they built cannot sustain them for long.
When an enormous ship floats by, Sebah realizes it is her only chance for survival. With her kitten, she abandons the raft. Hiding onboard, Sebah befriends a clever pair of bonobos and begins piecing together the struggles of the family living on the ark, a family led by a prophet named Noah.
...as the destructive waters roll ceaselessly around her, Sebah's journey is one of profound hope and personal growth.
Through 40 days and 40 nights of rain and the months of a flooded world afterward, Sebah's struggles and triumphs are intriguing and real. Donna Jo Napoli's proclivity for well-researched settings shines here, as we see the cultural influences of ancient Canaan alongside the life-or-death expediencies of stowing away on a boat when the other inhabitants would throw interlopers overboard. The plot is slow and subtle, as can be expected in a novel with such a small space for action. Yet as the destructive waters roll ceaselessly around her, Sebah's journey is one of profound hope and personal growth.
STORM, an intimate reimagination of the biblical flood, shows the triumph of one determined human spirit in the face of a divine catastrophe.
This guttural rendition of Noah’s Ark becomes an intriguing piece of historical fiction in the hands of master storyteller Napoli. Sebah, the daughter of a Canaanite farmer in the third millennium BCE, is swept up into the devastating flood, first surviving on a small peak and then a raft before stowing away on the ark. Sweeping the reader directly into an action-packed story, the book begins on “Day 1” and continues through the 40 days of rain and the 330 days of receding water. The first person present tense and gritty survival story will resonate with fans of The Hunger Games, but Napoli packs deeper themes into the murky depths of this tale. The reader comes to know Sebah quite intimately, and the author creates a wonderfully immersive experience. . . . Napoli includes the critical aspects of Noah’s and Sebah’s different faiths while sidestepping discussion of religion. The extensive author’s note, time line of biblical verses, and bibliography in the back support the tale’s foundation. Storm features frank but inexplicit discussions of sex, rape, and childbirth. Despite the radically different culture and unique circumstances, teens will connect with this remarkably courageous girl in her primal fight for family and survival.
The rain starts like any other rain with a dark cloud and a few drops, but then the deluge relentlessly continues. By the third day, sixteen-year-old Sebah has lost her brothers and her home to the flooding; by the second week, she is starving and stranded in a tree until a boy from her village finds her, they build a raft, and he claims her, with her consent, as his wife. By the end of the month, however, he too has been swept away and, before meeting the same fate herself, she manages to climb aboard a giant ark. Yes, it is indeed Noah’s ark and since she’s aware that her status as a stowaway on the ship defies Noah’s plan, Sebah decides her best bet is to hide with the animals below. As the rains continue, however, and Sebah’s belly grows heavy with a baby, her survival may depend on revealing herself. Napoli mines the Biblical story—one of the original apocalyptic tales—to find a different spiritual subtext, transforming it from a tale not about obeying the will of God but about how the very act of survival is sometimes the greatest leap of faith of all. The book depicts Noah as a man struggling with an enormous burden, and his strict reliance on his faith acts as a direct foil to the non-religious Sebah, whose reasons for living are bound both literally and figuratively to the fertile earth (she’s a gardener in addition to being pregnant). There is room, and perhaps requirement, for both types of faith in Napoli’s interpretation, and the ultimate survival of Sebah’s and Noah’s families underscores that message. Fans of Life of Pi will find a similar blend of gritty survivalism and spiritual contemplation in this maelstrom of a tale. KQG
— BCCB, March 2014
In this amazing story of Noah and the Flood, Donna Jo Napoli uses ancient
as well as her own modern Midrash to realistically take us to the
antediluvian world as it was moments before the rains began. We follow Sebah,
a sixteen-year-old girl, who runs out of her house to find her brothers when the
rains begin. She immediately gets caught by a flash flood and is carried far down
her local river before she can grab onto a ledge. Keeping hold of her pet cat, she
scales upward in search of food, avoids wild animals, and watches the world
disappear. Eventually, she meets a young boy, Aban, who “takes” Sebah as his
own. They stay alive until they manage to reach the top of the tallest tree and
when lightning strikes, they build a raft. Instead of dying, they come in contact with an enormous
ship! When all their cries for help go unheeded, Sebah climbs a rope dangling from the side of the
ark. Promising to survive, she leaves the weak and dying Aban on the raft. Sebah finds shelter and
safety on the ark, inside the cage housing the bonobos. With the apes’ assistance, she manages to
survive. A series of interesting and entertaining events take place while Sebah lives “invisibly” on
the ark, including her discovery of another stowaway.
The writing is exceptional. Well-crafted and engaging, it is difficult to put the book down.
Chapters are headed by the rain count (e.g. “Day 24”, “Night 85”, “Days 357-370”). Descriptions of
the strain on Noah and his family, as well as the animals’ behavior as they react to being “stuck” on
the Ark are vivid and realistic. There is some sexual content, although not particularly graphic as
well as some fairly explicit violence. The world before the Flood was not a kind one and survival was
not for the weak of heart. Superb writing and a unique story combine to make this a recommended
purchase for Jewish libraries.
Sixteen-year-old Sebah, a Canaanite girl, survives a massive flood that kills her family. As the rains continue for weeks on end, she and another survivor, Aban, are forced to build a raft to escape the rising waters. Barely alive, they encounter a giant boat—Noah’s ark, as it turns out—but only Sebah is strong enough to climb the rope someone has let down from a porthole. Exhausted and grief-stricken, Sebah finds herself in a cage with a pair of bonobos, with whom she soon bonds and names Queen and The Male. Bonobos, readers learn, are capable of compassion and empathy (hence the rescue and their decision to keep Sebah hidden from Noah). Bonobos are also known to be very, very sexually active; thankfully, Queen decides she is Sebah’s protector and that the girl is off-limits for The Male. (Phew!) Napoli’s story thoroughly humanizes Noah and his family—loyal to God but traumatized by the human devastation and frustrated with their fate. Readers witness the emotional and physical toll, on both humans and animals, of weeks of darkness and rain, then months of captivity, and will admire resourceful Sebah’s ability to make the best of an oppressive situation. The characters (including the loyal bonobos—and another human stowaway) that Napoli creates to flesh out her retelling of the classic story of survival and faith add both veracity and depth.