We Are Still Tornadoes: A Novel

We Are Still Tornadoes: A Novel

by Michael Kun, Susan Mullen


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"Readers aching for a combination of the '80s and a romance like Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park will be stoked." —Booklist

It's the summer of 1982, and for Scott and Cath, everything is about to change.

Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends for most of their lives. Now they've graduated high school, and Cath is off to college while Scott stays at home trying to get his band off the ground. Neither of them realized that their first year after high school would be so hard.

Fortunately, Scott and Cath still have each other, and it's through their letters that they survive heartache, annoying roommates, family dramas, and the pressure of figuring out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they've ever wanted to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should think about being more than friends? One thing is clear, Change is an inescapable part of growing up, and we share unbreakable bonds with the friends who help us navigate it.

This funny, extraordinary, and deeply moving book—set to an awesome '80s soundtrack—captures all the beautiful confusion and emotional intensity we find on the verge of adulthood...and first love.

We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen is not to be missed!

Praise for We Are Still Tornadoes:

**A Buzzfeed Must-Read Book of Fall**

**A Teen Vogue Best Book of the Month**

**A Goodreads Best YA Book of the Month**

**A Bustle.com Best Book of the Month**

**A Popsugar Best Book of November**

"A love story to best friends everywhere. Smart, charming, and delightful." — Kirkus Reviews

“Sweet and heartfelt, this is one contemporary YA fans won’t want to miss.” —Buzzfeed

"Sweet, funny, & heartfelt!" — Susan Elizabeth Phillips, New York Times Bestselling Author

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250098405
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 11/01/2016
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Michael Kun is the author of the novels You Poor Monster, The Locklear Letters, and A Thousand Benjamins, among other works of fiction and non-fiction. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Virginia School of Law. He practices law in Los Angeles, California, where he lives with his wife Amy and their daughter Paige.

We Are Still Tornadoes is Susan Mullen’s first novel. She is a graduate of Duke University, where she studied English literature, and the University of Virginia School of Law. She practices law and lives in Northern Virginia. Sue has been married to her law school classmate Kevin Mullen since 1990, and they have two daughters, Hannah and Haley.

Read an Excerpt

We are Still Tornadoes

By Michael Kun, Susan Mullen

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2016 Michael Kun and Susan Mullen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-09840-5




Dear Cath,

Good luck in college!

Thanks for four years of English homework.

See you at Thanksgiving!


P.S. Nice underwear!

Wake Forest University

August 30, 1982

Dearest Scott,

Thank you so much for the heartwarming note that you so kindly placed in my suitcase. I can't tell you how much it meant to me to arrive in my dorm room on my first day of college, filled with both excitement and anxiety, only to discover your note in my suitcase among my underwear which, oddly, were no longer folded in the same manner that I had folded them before I shut my suitcase.

College is overwhelming so far. Absolutely, incredibly, unbelievably overwhelming. The campus itself is twice the size of East Bloomfield, and there's not a person here who isn't wearing a T-shirt or a baseball cap that says WAKE FOREST on it, as if we might forget what college we're going to. (Like this stationery my dad bought me at the school store minutes after we'd unloaded the car! How do you like it? Does it help you remember where I'm going to school?) There are lots of very nice people — everyone's always smiling and saying "Hey!" around here! — but it's absolutely, incredibly, unbelievably overwhelming. Fortunately, all the other freshmen are in the same boat, except they probably didn't have someone going through their underwear.

Anyway, classes don't even start for three days. Maybe I won't feel so overwhelmed by then. And maybe everyone will stop smiling then, too.

By the way, it's very odd sleeping in a room with a complete stranger. (Please insert your own lame sex joke here.) My roommate's name is Mary Baird Dorothy Something-or-other, but thankfully she said we can call her "Dorothy" for short. She seems very sweet so far, but maybe too sweet, if you know what I mean. Like cotton candy. (That's called a simile, which you would know if you'd been paying attention in English.) Dorothy has a poster tacked up over her bed of a cat hanging from a tree branch. In big red letters, it says HANG IN THERE, BABY! It doesn't quite go with my Elvis Costello poster. Maybe my tastes will match up better with some of the other girls on my hall. I've met about a dozen or so already. I can't tell you any of their names. Thank God for name tags!

Here's the other thing: Don't tell my parents, but I have to admit that I'm a little homesick already. There, I said it. And I will deny saying it until my dying days. But I've never been away from home before, and it's so strange not to have my mom and dad right down the hall if I need anything. I especially miss Plum. I hope my mom remembers to feed her. I know my dad won't.

Please write back soon, okay? And please, please, stay away from my underwear! A girl's undergarments are a private matter, my friend. (Sorry, but I'm still not going to say "panties." You know that word gives me the creeps. Like "moist." I shivered just writing that.)

Love, Catherine

P.S. Did I mention that Dorothy's a snorer? It sounds like someone's operating heavy machinery five feet away from me. I just hope I can hang in there, baby.

P.P.S. What happened to you last week? You disappeared on me. I can't believe we didn't get a chance to say good-bye.

P.P.P.S. Tell your parents I said hi. And that you're a perv.



Where Men and Boys Shop


September 2, 1982

Dear Cath,

I'm appauled that you would accuse me of going through your panties when I left that heartwarming note in your suitcase. Appauled, I tell you. (Did I spell "appauled" correctly? If not, please correct it for me.) Just so we're clear, are you talking about the yellow bikini ones with the stars on the hip that were packed right beneath your running shoes? Or the light blue bikini ones with the white polka dots? Or the hot pink ones? Or the orange-and-red ones? Or that really big beige pair that you must have stolen from your grandmother?

Seriously, though, your stupid dog knocked over the entire suitcase when I was trying to stick the note inside. I had to scramble to put everything back into the suitcase. And that's the story I'll tell the police!

Anyway, unless your roommate hung it up to be funny, the HANG IN THERE, BABY poster is pretty scary. Didn't Mrs. Wilkins have that same stupid poster behind her desk in fourth grade? But your Elvis Costello poster's even scarier, if you ask me. You'd never even heard of Elvis Costello until I got you to listen to him over the summer, and now you have his poster up on your wall to try to convince everyone that you're the cool chick in the dorm? How sad. How very, very sad. You better pray I don't come down to visit you in whatever state Wake Forest is in and tell all your new buddies about how you were still listening to Tony Orlando and Dawn just a few months ago. Yes, you'd better get on your knees and pray, college girl.

On a different note, my job is terrible. The days are endless. That's what I get for working at my father's store, I suppose. Yes, I know, it's my own damn fault. If I'd just "buckled down" and "put my nose to the grindstone" and gotten some decent "grades," I could have gone off to college like you and everyone else in our class, but I "didn't" do those things, and it's too late to "cry over spilled milk." I "made my bed," and now I have to "lie" in it. I imagine I'll work at "Agee's Men's Clothing" until it becomes "Agee & Son's Men's Clothing." Then someday my father will die — it's going to be a heart attack, in case you want to bet — and it will become "Agee's Men's Clothing" again. I will have spent my whole life selling clothes to people in this "one-horse town," and I will be "fat" and "old" and "disgusting." But your mother will still have a crush on me.

I think I use quotation marks too much. What do you "think," college girl?

And I really do think your mother has a crush on me. (By the way, I saw her walking Plum last night. I assume she's feeding her, too.)

Oh, did I mention that Samantha broke up with me? I know I didn't mention it, but I waited a few paragraphs to tell you to make it sound casual. Did it work? Anyway, after we agreed that we would date long-distance while she was at college, she sent me a letter telling me she'd met someone else at school and didn't think it would be fair to lead me on. She sent me the letter after her third day at college. Three days, can you believe it? Honestly, I'm more surprised than hurt. I figured we could stick it out until Christmas, at the very least. But three days? I've had pimples that have lasted longer than that. I've had gas that's lasted longer than that. You get the point.

I have to go do something very important right now, at least as far as you know. Hope you're having fun at school, college girl.


P.S. Did I tell you that my dad is giving me a 10% discount off anything at the store? How cool is that? (I'm being serious. I really want to know how cool that is. I think the answer is, "Not very," but I'm not sure.)

P.P.S. Want me to send you some Tony Orlando and Dawn albums to listen to when you get homesick?

P.P.P.S. Three days! Can you believe it?

Wake Forest University

September 6, 1982

My Dearest Scottie,

I knew Plum knocked over the suitcase. I asked my mom how you left me a note in my suitcase since my dad made you give back the key to our house after that party, and she said she let you go up to my bedroom, but she heard Plum knock over the suitcase and heard you cursing a blue streak. So you're off the hook. For now.

And I'll deal with the dorm room poster thing in a minute.

But first, if you're going to insist on calling me "college girl," then I'm going to start calling you "underachiever guy." Or "really bad speller boy." How does that work for you? (By the way, it's "appalled.")

And yes, you do overuse quotation marks. Particularly since you also misuse quotation marks. Who puts "grades" in quotation marks? Oh, yeah — you do. Which is why I had to "help you" through "English class" all during "high school," underachiever guy.

I'm sorry work sucks, but I love your dad's store! I love everything about it. I really do, although I've never been there for eight hours at a time. Maybe it will get more interesting when it gets busier for the holidays. Or maybe you'll move up and get more involved in other aspects of the business. (There are other aspects, right?) I don't know, but your dad always seems happy and that's where he's worked forever, so it can't be that bad, right? (I have some very fond memories of coming into the store to see you, and your dad calling me his "little Catherine" and sneaking me some hard candies. Speaking of which, you might want to check under that last suit rack in the back corner. I never really liked the orange ones.) Or maybe you'll change your mind and go to college. Despite your quotation mark "challenges," and despite your spelling challenges, you are way smarter than most of the people here. Besides me, of course.

You think my mom has a crush on you? Please. My mother is thrilled that you will eat her cooking. My dad and I know better. And yelling the F-word (as my mom would say) at Plum when she knocked over my suitcase didn't endear you to my mother at all, trust me. Although I have to admit that I enjoyed making her repeat it over the phone.

As for your news about Samantha, because you waited until the end of your letter before telling me about her, I've delayed in responding. That's called tit for tat. (Insert a lame sex joke here.) Samantha, Samantha, Samantha. What to say about Sa-Man-Tha? Um, okay. This is what I'm going to say about Samantha. Nothing. And do you know why? Because by the time you get this, Samantha may have come crawling back to you. Hopefully, literally crawling 200 miles on those bony little knees of hers from the Western Kentucky College for Morons, or whatever the name is of that "college" she's attending. My roommate, who's hanging in there, keeps saying, "This is just like camp! This is just like camp!" I'm guessing that she means that this whole college thing doesn't seem real. So maybe that's what Samantha's going through. Maybe she'll wake up and not be hungover for once in her life and realize what a huge mistake she's made. That you're the best thing that's ever happened to her. That she was lucky to have you. And that, really, she didn't deserve a minute of your time. But until I know that this really is a "breakup" and not just one of her Boone's Farm–fueled, bubble-headed freak-outs, I'll keep my opinions to myself.

Okay, on to the dorm room poster thing. Yes, I know you are Mr. Cool Music Guy and got Elvis's My Aim Is True before anybody else in the galaxy except for Elvis himself and maybe his mother, but I had to put something on my side of the room. Dorothy's mom showed up with matching black-and-gold Wake Forest bedspreads, curtains, and bulletin boards for both of us. I kid you not. I'd never even met them before, and they're going to pick out my bedspread? I said something like, "Well, gee, thanks, but I brought my own stuff." Her mom was clearly miffed and started banging nails into the walls and hanging up all these framed posters all over the place. Elvis is all I had, and I was sort of glad that it clashed with all their matchy-matchy stuff. Besides, "Accidents Will Happen" is like a theme song here. I've never seen so many people throw up! In bushes, in hallways, sometimes they even make it to the bathroom. It's disgusting. And then I hum "Accidents will happen ..." and think about riding around town with you, listening to it on the tape deck, and then it's not so bad.

I have to go to the library. Classes started and there's a lot to do. They don't call this place "Work Forest" for nothing. And I have to tell you about my Calculus professor. My parents would die if they knew they were cutting a big check to Wake Forest to pay for this dork. He reminds me of Mr. Laire. Which isn't a compliment.

Write soon and let me know if Samantha is as dumb as I think she is. About the breakup, I mean.

Love, College Girl

P.S. No, I don't want to bet on how your father will die! What is wrong with you?

P.P.S. Your dad's 10% discount? Not very cool. He used to give me 20% just for being so darned lovable.

P.P.P.S. Tony Orlando and Dawn are awesome, and "Knock Three Times" is super awesome. Don't pretend I was the only one who would dance to that song. I may even have pictures of you dancing to it that I could use as evidence.


Where Men and Boys Shop


September 9, 1982

Dear College Girl,

You have pictures that would prove I was dancing to a particular song? Tell me how that works exactly. How can you look at a picture and tell what song someone was dancing to? I mean, unless I am holding a sign that says, I'M DANCING TO A TONY ORLANDO AND DAWN SONG AT THE MOMENT THIS PICTURE IS BEING TAKEN, I don't see how that would work. Do you have a picture of me holding up a sign like that?

And please don't think I'm over here crying my eyes out over Samantha with the bony knees. (FYI — I didn't date her for her knees, if you know what I mean. I dated her for two other reasons. I'm trying to be subtle here. How am I doing at that?) I mean, if I had a dollar for every time I wanted to break up with her myself, I'd have a good six or seven dollars! Those are big bucks, my friend. The bigger problem is that there's no one left in town for me to date, now that everyone in our class is off at college. The only girls left are in high school, and I always thought it was creepy when guys graduated but still hung around the school afterwards. (Yes, I am referring to Todd Wilkerson. Remember how he came back and dated that crazy girl in our class after he had graduated? Oh, that's right, that was you, wasn't it? How could that have slipped my mind?) Anyway, I'm committed to not being one of those losers. (I'm committed to be an entirely different kind of loser!) But with everyone gone, that pretty much reduces my potential dating pool to one person — your mom! Boy, will that be uncomfortable for you when you come home for Thanksgiving!

Speaking of high school, you'll never guess who came into the store looking for jeans yesterday. (Technically, he asked for "dungarees," not "jeans." Which is not only sad, but an appropriate use of quotation marks, too.) Mr. Mennori. Give me a D in Biology, then show up at my dad's store and ask for "dungarees" like it never happened? What a jerk. The funny thing is that for the first time in my life, I could say anything I wanted to him because he doesn't have any power over me anymore. He's just another tubby guy coming into the store and lying about the size of his waist. But instead of telling him to go screw himself, I shook his hand and actually said, "Nice to see you, Mr. Mennori." Can you believe it? "Nice to see you, Mr. Mennori"? I completely wimped out. Next time he comes in, I'm going to say something absolutely devastating that will make him wish he'd never crossed paths with me. I haven't thought of it yet, but I will. Mark my words. And whatever it is, it will be something your mother would be too embarrassed to repeat to you over the phone. (Did she really say "fuck"? I can't even imagine her saying that!)

College sounds terrific so far, college girl. Studying and vomiting. Sounds like I'm missing out on so much! In fact, tonight I may try to replicate the college experience by reading one of my old book reports with my finger down my throat.

Give Dorothy my love.

Your future stepfather, Scott

P.S. Would it be too mean if I said something about that giant mushroom-looking thing on Mr. Mennori's elbow the next time he came in? (I'll answer my own question: Yes. But I'll bet you won't be able to eat mushrooms for a week now that I've got you thinking about it!)

P.P.S. In case you really have lost your sense of humor, college girl, I'm joking about marrying your mom. She's not even the most attractive woman in your family. No, that aunt of yours who came to your pool party was smoking hot! Can you send me her phone number? Do you have a picture of her dancing to a Tony Orlando and Dawn song?

P.P.P.S. I made you a tape of a great album by a British band called ABC. The album's called The Lexicon of Love. (I had to look up what "lexicon" means.) Every single song is a masterpiece of pop music. "Poison Arrow" is my favorite, but "Look of Love" and "Tears Are Not Enough" are also incredible.

P.P.P.P.S. Calling me "underachiever guy" — is that supposed to be an insult or a compliment?

P.P.P.P.P.S. One more thing. I have a very important question to ask you, and I think you need to be sitting down when I ask it. Are you sitting down now? Okay, here it is: Are you still a Tornado?


Excerpted from We are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun, Susan Mullen. Copyright © 2016 Michael Kun and Susan Mullen. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
1982: August,
1983: January,
About the Authors,

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We Are Still Tornadoes 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
We Are Still Tornadoes was an unexpectedly delightful read. I got it from NetGalley many months ago, and I’d forgotten what it was supposed to be about. It’s an epistolary novel, which I love. It takes place in 1982, and the letters are written back and forth between Scott and Cath, best friends, now separated by a few hundred miles as Cath has left their rural Maryland town for Wake Forest University in NC. Scott is staying home and helping his father at their family store. This book made me laugh out loud many times. Scott and Cath’s letters are both funny and poignant. They’re dealing with some serious family drama in addition to navigating their friendship in the post high school world. Their voices were perfect. The settings (1982) was really just an attempt to make the letters seem natural I’m assuming. No teens today would write long narratives back and forth to each other. Scott is also into popular music, and there was a lot of new artists that year that made for interesting discussion in their letters. Ultimately, the story is a slow burn romance – obviously – but the extra drama and humor made it such a perfect read for me. This book was my first 5-star rating of 2017. I know this is a book I will re-read in the future. I was almost tempted to start it again right away. I just feel in love with their characters and their relationship. I need to find the audio, so I can re-listen at work. http://opinionatedbooklover.com/review-still-tornadoes-michael-kun-susan-mullen/
BooksforKatie More than 1 year ago
Cath and Scott have been best friends and almost inseparable since they were 5 years old. Now Cath goes on to college and Scott is left at home. Scott has not cared about grades through high school and now has to go work in his father's men's clothing store. This book is written in letters back and forth between Cath and Scott. We can tell that they genuinely care for each other, and see the potential each other has. In these letters, we can feel their teasing, heart breaks, and love. The bad part of the letter format is that some letters will say, things similar to, "Thank you for the talk last night, I really needed it" or "I was really glad to see you" but we are clueless as to what happened during those phone calls or personal visits. I could see this book for those nearing the end of high school or just entering college, late YA and New Adult. With Cath and Scott's friendship, we can all learn that we always need someone to be there to help us through new adventures, dealing with the past, and family issues that may arise. Thank you St. Martin's and NetGalley for the digital ARC in order to give an honest review.
JessicaCoffee More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars* Really enjoyed this! The ending came a little fast, but it kind of had to, considering books can't go on forever. (Womp womp.) I loved how both MCs learned a lot about themselves and the people around them that first year out of high school, and how the authors took their time with everything, building it up properly, so nothing felt contrived. One thing that bothered me at the beginning was Cath's seemingly-overreaction to something Scott said, but it eventually made sense. WAST was funny, smart, sweet, sad, surprising, and so much more; and the early 80s setting gave it a fun vibe. (Not to mention the letter-writing format. I really enjoy reading epistolary novels.**) Pick this one up. You won't regret it. I promise! Can't wait to read more by the authors! *definitely upper-YA due to language and other content **If you liked WE ARE STILL TORNADOES and epistolary novels set in the past, you might also like PAPER PLANES AND OTHER THINGS WE LOST
etoile1996 More than 1 year ago
i'm a sucker for an epistolary novel, possibly because it just reminds me of a different time, when letters were the easiest way to share your thoughts with friends across long distances. in we are still tornadoes it is 1982, and catherine osteen and scott agee are childhood friends who are separated when she goes off to college and he stays home working at his dad's clothing store and starting a band. the letters are spaced out over the course of their first year apart, and follows the ups and downs of long distance correspondence. the misunderstandings that arise when you aren't communicating face-to-face. the way words can offer hope, comfort and love, and yet also cut you to the quick. how you can be brave and write things that you might never say otherwise. even though all the action takes place through the letters, the authors do a good job of informing us about what is happening off-screen. both cath and scott are dealing with their share of heavy things as well as their own insecurities and hang-ups, and the letters allow us to see how they work through these things together. and we also see how they grow up as they experience life after high school and how that changes things, but through it all they are also still cath and scott, best friends, tornadoes. (it's an inside joke, but you'll have to read the book to get in on it.) it being 1982 makes sense for the epistolary nature of the story, but also because music informs this novel incredibly. scott loves music. he starts up a band. he writes songs and shares his lyrics with cath. both scott and cath love to share their thoughts about the music being released, and looking back, it was an incredible time for music. it's the über 80s—so many songs that would define the decade were released that year. **we are still tornadoes will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advanced reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press in exchange for my honest review.
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
This book wasn't even on my radar until I received a surprise copy from the publisher. The synopsis sounded like something right up my alley. I was a bit wary of the letter writing format, but I loved it. I loved the banter and the way their relationship progressed. The personalities of Cath and Scott come shining through and I really enjoyed only learning what was on the page. Overall, it was a quick and cute read. There were a few angsty moments, but it was so slight. This book is almost entirely all fluff and it's delightful. **Huge thanks to Griffin Teen for providing the finished copy free of charge**
onemused More than 1 year ago
"We are Still Tornadoes" is an incredible insta-favorite! I am absolutely gushing about how much I loved this book! This epistolary fiction records the exchanges between Scott and Cath, who lived across the street from each other growing up as best friends and who now mail letters to each other while she is at college and he works at his dad's clothing store. The letters are sent in the early 80s, which is why they aren't using email, and why there are so many delightful 80s references and songs. Scott and Cath go through a lot over the course of the year, and even without the budding romance, I would have loved this book! Their potential romantic relationship and UST (unresolved sexual tension) was just the icing on the cake. Cath is dealing with her parents' relationship and Scott is dealing with death. Both use the letters and unrecorded phone calls (mentioned in the letters) to communicate with the other about the events and piece back together their lives. I absolutely adored the book and loved their relationship, their adventures and misadventures, and the overall tone of the letters. I laughed out loud so many times I lost count. It's witty and beautiful, and I loved every second of it. Please note that I received an uncorrected advance proof from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for my honest review.