Cover image for Tempest rising : a novel
Tempest rising : a novel
McKinney-Whetstone, Diane.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [1998]

Physical Description:
280 pages ; 25 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.6 16.0 42978.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Set in west Philadelphia in the early sixties, Tempest Rising tells the story of three sisters, Bliss, Victoria, and Shern, budding adolescents raised in a world of financial privilege among the upper-black-class. But their lives quickly unravel as their father's lucrative catering business collapses. He disappears and is presumed dead, and their mother suffers an apparent breakdown. The girls are wrenched from their mother, and as the novel opens they are living in foster care in a working-class neighborhood in the home of Mae, a politically connected card shark. Though Mae is filled with syrupy names like "pudding" and "doll face" for the foster girls, she is abusive to her own child, Ramona, a twenty-something stunning beauty. As Ramona struggles with Mae's abuse and her own hatred for the foster children, she also tries to keep at bay a powerful attraction she has for her boyfriend's father.

Diane McKinney-Whetstone richly evokes the early 1960s in west Philadelphia in this spicy story of loss and healing, redemption and love.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

McKinney-Whetstone's remarkable second novel is set in Philadelphia during the sixties. Three sisters, Bliss, Victoria, and Shern, are raised as privileged middle-class children until tragedy unravels their lives. The family begins to experience hardship when the father's lucrative catering business plummets. Just as the father sets out to stabilize the family's finances, he disappears and is presumed dead. The death of the family's "rock" causes the mother to suffer a nervous breakdown, and the girls are removed from her care. The novel focuses on the attention they receive and the relationship that develops between each girl and their caregivers, Mae and Ramona. Mae is a politically connected foster-care provider, but she shows little concern for her own daughter, Ramona. Ramona struggles to accept her role as secondary child-care provider, yet she resents the children and her mother's abuse. Each character is unforgettable in this powerful story about family and how good and bad experiences bond and destroy those relationships. --Lillian Lewis

Publisher's Weekly Review

With overreaching prose and overwhelming family tangles, McKinney-Whetstone's return to black Philadelphia, this time in the 1960s, never quite lives up to the promise of her debut, Tumbling. Raised by her affectionate, idiosyncratic aunts and uncles after her mother's death, middle-class Clarise elopes with a poor but talented cook named Finch, and together they open their own successful catering business. Soon, three beautiful daughters‘Shern, Victoria and Bliss‘complete their vision of bourgeois happiness, but the repeal of Jim Crow laws lures their best customers away to white catering chains, and Finch dies in a last-ditch effort to save his faltering business. Already fragile, Clarise is hospitalized with a breakdown. When an old criminal conviction denies custody of the girls to the aunts and uncles, the children are placed in a nightmarish foster home run by compulsive gambler Mae and her adult daughter, Ramona. The children's and adults' lives are complicated by various betrayals: Mae abuses Ramona's credit; Ramona's boyfriend, Tyrone, finds comfort with another woman (while Ramona pines for Tyrone's father); and Mae's favorite cousin sexually assaults Shern. Pushed beyond their limits, the girls at last run away and the adults must work together to find them. Subplots of minor consequence overshadow the primary story, and McKinney-Whetstone's adult characters are too unreflective to win our sympathy. Despite patches of warmth and humor, melodrama prevails over some flashing moments which remind one of McKinney-Whetstone's potential. Author tour. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Having hit it big last year with Tumbling (LJ 6/1/96), McKinney-Whetstone returns with more tales of black life in west Philadelphia. This time, three sisters in an upper-middle-class black family face the collapse of their father's business. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-Philadelphia in 1965 comes alive in this fast-moving story of courage and determination. With the success of the civil rights movement, African Americans begin to take their business outside their community, and Finch's thriving catering business falls into near bankruptcy. His wife and their three adolescent daughters, Shern, Victoria, and Bliss, have only known comfortable living, and are not prepared for the upheaval that they must face. Finch's death leads to his wife's mental breakdown and his daughters are placed in foster care, unable to contact their mother or their extended family. Mae is in the foster-home business for the money while her daughter, Ramona, is the actual caregiver; their relationship is far from simple. When Mae returns home from a family visit, she brings along her teenage nephew, who attempts to molest Shern. Afraid to speak up and yet fearful of what might eventually happen, she convinces her sisters to flee the foster home. Loose threads are tightly connected as the story reaches its climax, and all ends happily. All of the characters are uniquely and vividly drawn.-Dottie Kraft, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.