Book Review #8: “Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on a Woman’s Life”

“This book is dedicated to the countless individuals who have suffered at the hands of a loved one; may you find peace and healing in your journey and know that your life has meaning and purpose. Every human being and living creature deserves a life free from torment of any kind; there is no excuse for abuse.”

~Elin Stebbins Waldal

This is now the second time I’ve read this book.

This book was displayed on one of my local library’s shelves, several years ago. The title stuck out to me immediately. I felt compelled to pick it up and read it.

Then I remembered this book again a couple months ago. I remembered it was called “Tornado Warning” and I remembered there was a brightly-colored flower on the cover.

I decided, right then and there, to buy it.

When I received it in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised to learn my copy had been signed by the author.

“Love begins inside …”

Love (using a drawn heart), Elin

Today, July 17th, is the five-year anniversary of my freedom, my emancipation.

Like Elin, I was fortunate to get out of my abusive relationship, alive.

For me, it took four years, and 16 days.

Re-reading this book, several years apart, was striking for me. The book was published in 2011, so I’m fairly certain the first time I read it was either in 2011 or 2012.

No matter how much time passed, my feelings were exactly the same.

I drew so many comparisons between Elin and myself. I saw so many similarities between her abusive boyfriend, Derrick, and mine, John. We both met these guys when we were 17. (I turned 18 a month after John and I started dating.)

Even Elin’s writing style is similar to mine.

It’s a brief memoir, less than 200 pages, but those pages speak volumes. It envelopes you in Elin’s world, from age 17, to the present day with her husband Jimmy and her children, to her childhood, and back again. It’s a fascinating, yet frightening tale.

I’m a visual reader. I can tell I’m reading a good book when I can put the book down, or look up for a few moments, and see the scene I was just reading in front of me, like watching a movie.

The scenes she painted, they were absolutely horrific.

I could almost hear the yelling, the screaming.

I cried several times. I had to put the book down several times and reach for something comforting to hold for a while. If I read for a while before bed, I could close my eyes and visualize the last scene I had read, with a chill crossing my skin every time.

A girl, apparently from Connecticut, according to the address label affixed to the inside cover, highlighted several passages of the book.

One of Elin’s journal entries had this highlighted:

“… I know what he can be and is capable of so I almost always feel on guard. It’s hard to just relax and trust him. It’s all so weird.”

That was me, to a T.

John hit me twice in the week that I broke up with him, that fateful week in mid-July 2010. That was it.

For Elin, however, her physical abuse was far worse. I could see it. I could almost feel it, feel what Derrick was doing to her. I had goosebumps almost the entire time I read, and re-read, this book.

However, Elin and I both suffered immense emotional and mental abuse. It was absolutely chilling to read her story. I feel fortunate that I didn’t suffer as much physical abuse as Elin did, but, to be honest, the emotional and mental abuse was worse. The two hits that John delivered on that Monday and Wednesday just solidified my beliefs that I was not happy, that this was not right, and that I finally had enough courage to speak up, say something, and leave.

This book brought a lot of flashbacks to my abuse that I endured. John and I dated from July 1, 2006 through July 17, 2010. The first year, and part of the second year, were great. I would say they were almost perfect. John swept me off my feet. He romanced me. I thought he truly loved me.

From my experiences: College changes people. Usually, it changes for the better, but college can change people in the worst ways as well.

If you and your boyfriend/girlfriend from high school go to the same college together, take it from me, you’re taking a big risk.

And this doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships. Friendships are affected. Families change.

Abuse manifests itself in so many ugly, horrendous forms.

For me, it took years for me to see the light. Even though EVERYONE around me saw right through it, years before. I finally realized, at some point in 2010, that I was not the same Laura Beth. I wanted to change.

The key with abusive relationships is that YOU have recognize that you’re being abused. No one else can convince you otherwise.

The only complaint I had with Elin’s book is with the structure. Her intentions were good to intersperse her personal journal entries with the memoir, but it was difficult to follow at times. It got confusing. It felt a little forced. It felt out of place at certain points.

Other than that, I’m so grateful I bought this book. This book is symbolic of my experiences, the journey that I was on from 2006 through 2010.

This will sit on my bookshelf forever. I plan to share this book with my children, when the time is right. Elin has done that with her children, and I look forward to the days when I share my stories with my children, trying to help them understand that any kind of abuse is wrong.

I believe everyone should read this book.

5 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

12 thoughts on “Book Review #8: “Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on a Woman’s Life”

  1. What a clever cover concept!

  2. Hi Laura Beth,

    Quite by accident I came across your lovely review of my book, my story. What a relief to learn right away that your own life is now free from the shackles of an abusive relationship.

    I also read your “About the Author” page, know that I am cheering you on as you tackle your NaMoWriMo work(s) this year. ☺️
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Tornado Warning with your readers. Also, thank you for using your voice, it has been my experience that being brave with ones voice, more times than not, inspires others to be brave with their own. Our collective voices create countless ripple effects and that, in my humble opinion, is where the magic is.

    Thanks again, Laura Beth, here’s to the wonderful path you are on.

    • Hi Elin,

      I have to admit, my heart stopped when I saw your comment in an email from WordPress. Wow! I’m honored. Thank you – For reading my review, thinking that it’s lovely, and for commenting. It was an honor to read (and re-read) your book, and then write about it. My blog is one of the most important things in my life.

      I appreciate the support and the cheers. I enjoy NaNoWriMo so much. I was a little sad that I didn’t do it in 2015, but it was for a good reason – I married the love of my life, Al, on November 14th. November was a wonderful month with the wedding, our honeymoon, and our first married Thanksgiving.

      I’m happy to spread the word about Tornado Warning. It has affected my life in such a positive way. After suppressing my voice for those four long years, I use it loudly and proudly now. I hope that I have inspired others, through sharing my story in-person and also using my blog as another platform.

      Thank you, Elin. Your words here, and the time you took to read my blog and write to me, mean the world to me. Cheers to you!

      Laura Beth

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