Let the Tornado Come: A Memoir
"Icicles drip from the windows encircling the dressage arena, as they melt, they grow longer. They are dazzling, glistening in the sun, but right now each one is a threat. The light would be dazzling, too --- the brazen shaft of sun angling into the arena, catching the dust as if it were fog --- but as we pass the sunray, Claret curves his body away from it. His horse brain is naturally wired to flee from any perceived danger, but for this horse, who has had real reasons to be afraid, anything unexpected is dangerous."
From the very start of LET THE TORNADO COME, Rita Zoey Chin creates an atmospheric stage for telling her life's story. Through achingly tender prose, she introduces readers to her soulmate, a beautiful, otherworldly chestnut horse.
"This powerful debut memoir is at once a story of recovery, renewal and hope."
With a striking clarity of voice, Chin speaks of their similar pasts, alluding to their shared histories of abuse: "I’m acutely aware of the inexorable force of him, the adrenaline zinging through his fourteen-hundred-pound body. I know his impulse to flee as well as I know anything, because for years the same impulse ruled me. There was a time when my pounding heart would have matched his, when fear would have been the only answer for us both, but right now, as the irregular beats of Claret’s hooves mark an eerie uncertainty about where the next steps will land, I’m surprised to find that what would once have been fear is now a strange curiosity."
Chin masterfully navigates a world fraught with violence and uncertainty. The universe she presents is dichotomous --- as much savage, brutal and feral as it is gentle, orderly and controlled. She recounts growing up in a cheerless apartment in Queens, New York, near Kennedy airport in a household marred by her parents' constant arguing. She describes the thunderous rumbling of planes, her "father’s deep roar" and "mother’s high howl." She discloses life's cruel fate: "For both my parents, I represented just one more loss of freedom, and when my mother was eight months pregnant with me, my father kicked her stomach." Intense fight scenes resemble violent tango steps: "They were staggering and swinging from a combination of drugs and rage. They slapped and punched and bit each other. They called each other long rashes of names."
After running away at the age of 11, Chin spends her adolescent years alternating between the streets and state-run agencies, struggling to survive. Beyond the dark chapters of her life, from the domestic terror to panic attacks, Chin gives herself a fresh start, embracing, albeit awkwardly at times, her new roles as wife, equestrian and artist.
This powerful debut memoir is at once a story of recovery, renewal and hope. “As as we are alive, there is always the chance to begin again. Begin again beginagainbeginagainbeginagain,” Chin encouragingly reminds us.
Reviewed by Miriam Tuliao on June 27, 2014