The story of Noah in the Old Testament has always troubled me, as I grapple with the implications of a worldwide flood. However, in the young adult novel Storm (Simon & Schuster, 2014) by Donna Jo Napoli, the author takes a creative approach by envisioning the experience of a teenage stowaway named Sebah on Noah’s Ark. Through Sebah’s eyes, we witness the sudden deluge that lasts for 40 days, forcing her to seek refuge first in a tree, then on a makeshift raft, and ultimately aboard Noah’s Ark. Unlike Noah and his family, who are portrayed as unkind, Sebah finds solace and companionship among the animals on the ark, making her a likable and resourceful stowaway.
While biblical purists may take issue with the novel’s portrayal of Noah’s personality and the irreligious aspects of his family, as well as the concept of a stowaway, I personally interpret the Bible more symbolically. From this perspective, the novel’s exploration of how the flood might have unfolded is both entertaining and plausible. Sebah’s innovative ideas and unwavering determination to improve her circumstances add depth to her character and offer a fresh take on the well-known story. I enjoyed her relationship with the animals as well as the additional narrative twists that surprised me as the novel progressed.
With tame sexual content, Storm is most appropriate for adults and young adults, not middle grade readers. Overall, Storm provides a captivating and thought-provoking look into the Noah narrative, highlighting the emotional and practical challenges faced by a young person caught in the midst of such a cataclysmic event.