It has been a roller coaster year for the city of Joplin since a tornado destroyed one third of the city on May 22.
John Hacker and I, with the help of a number of tornado survivors chronicled that story in our book, 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, which was published in August.
Because of the nature of the topic, 5:41, naturally, was a tough book to take emotionally for many people, and others thave told me that they were only able to read a chapter or two at a time because of the relentless nature of the tragedy of the night that changed Joplin forever.
The second book, tenatively titled, Reborn: One Year After the Joplin Tornado, still has its share of tragedy and segments that will be hard for people to read, especially those who were in the heart of the area hit by the tornado.
Most of the book, however, will have a different tone because, ultimately, the story of the Joplin Tornado has turned into one of triumph.
Initially, John Hacker and I had planned to publish the book shortly before the one-year anniversary, but those plans were changed once it was announced that President Barack Obama would be speaker at the Joplin High School Graduation Monday, May 21, just a day before the anniversary.
At that point, it was decided to make the graduation (not because of the president being here, but that certainly made the decision easier) a focal point of the book, since it is the story of a group of young people who lost their school in the tornado and have had to persevere through a difficult school year on the way to a triumphant ceremony that will signal their reaching the gateway to adulthood.
The rest of the book is shaping up, as well, with some parts already confirmed and others expected in the next few days.
Among the features that we already have ready to go:
-Followups from some of those whose stories were featured in 5:41, including Andrea Thomas, Denton Williams, Rose Fogarty, Gary Harrall, and Laela Zaidi. Others have indicated they will be writing, as well.
-More stories from the tornado, including former Sarcoxie Record reporter Rick Nichols' account of living through the tornado as it hit the International House of Pancakes.
-John Hacker's reporting from May 22 up to date, including coverage of many of the major events that have happened during the recovery and more on the hospitals and emergency personnel
-Photos from major events throughout the school year. This book will include many more photos than 5:41.
-My article, originally written for Chapman Magazine on the death of Joplin High School 2011 graduate Will Norton and its affect on Chapman.
-A couple of stories about the comforting and essential presence of the Joplin Tornado Info website, including one story on how this process can be used to help when future disasters occur and a powerful personalized story about how the creators of JTI jumped in immediately after the tornado and provided an irreplaceable service.
-My stories about such major events as the first day of school, the Rush Limbaugh July 4 visit, other school-related activities since May 22.
-The final National Weather Service report
-Transcripts of some of the major speeches that have taken place since May 22, including some you might not expect to see.
-Much, much more which we will be revealing in the days and weeks to come.
John and I are excited about this book and we hope you will be, too.