cover image Let the Tornado Come

Let the Tornado Come

Rita Zoey Chin. Simon and Schuster, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4767-3486-6

A bond with a troubled horse helps a woman overcome a legacy of abuse and exploitation in this alternately harrowing and luminous confessional memoir. Chin, a poet and essayist, grew up in a deeply dysfunctional family, viciously beaten by her wrathful dad and disowned by her unstable mother. She began running away at age thirteen and was soon dividing her time between institutions and the streets, where she slipped into a life of drugs and prostitution. She left it behind in adulthood with a writing career and marriage to a neurosurgeon but suddenly came down with panic attacks that left her terrified of showering, climbing staircases, driving and almost everything else. After an unhelpful tour of therapeutic regimens, she sought relief by learning to ride and understand a horse with its own unfathomable anxieties. Chin's story moves between nerve-wracking yet never overplayed episodes of violence and degradation in her youth, and the quiet, baffling tensions of her adult neuroses. Twining through it are lyrical, exuberant scenes lit by her abiding "belief that there was beauty to be had in this world." The result is a haunting yet hopeful saga that shows how trauma and fear can transform themselves into enduring strength. (June)