Hurricane Heat by Steven Barwin

hurricane heat

Barwin, S. (2013). Hurricane heat. Victoria, B.C: Orca Book Publishers.

Plot Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Travis Barkley has been separated from his sister, Amanda, since their parents’ death five years earlier. After the siblings were placed in separate foster homes, Amanda’s family moved from Arizona to California. At that point, the siblings lost contact with each other. Now, Travis is sure that Amanda was the one who sent him a blank postcard of Hermosa Beach Pier, and he decides he needs to find her. So, when school ends, with the blessing of his foster parents, Travis moves to Hermosa for the summer to try to track her down.

While searching for Amanda, Travis meets Ethan who encourages him to try out for his baseball team, the Hurricanes. Although Travis hasn’t played baseball since the death of his parents, his natural talent and love for the game become evident to the coach. Soon the possibility of scouts recruiting him and the dream of scholarships begin to conflict with his original focus of finding his sister.

Critical Evaluation:

Orca Books is a Canadian publisher that focuses on materials for the reluctant reader. The Orca Sports series are very popular with this population because the novels are short and full of action. The use of a sports theme can help to draw the reader to the book while the use of action, mystery and adventure keep the reader engaged.

Equally important, in Hurricane Heat, the main character is an older teen who is living on his own. Reluctant teen readers may need a book whose vocabulary is at a lower level but they still want to read about characters who they can relate to; age is an important factor in their willingness to read a book.

Reader’s Annotation:

When Travis receives a blank postcard, he knows that the sister he was separated from five years earlier is trying to contact him. Now he has to decide what is more important; finding her or his shot at the Big Leagues.

Information About the Author:

Steven Barwin is a Canadian who focuses on writing sports themed books because, simply, he loves sports.  Barwin says he always wanted to be a writer and started writing his own stories when he was in eighth grade. He went to Ryerson’s TV program and became a writing intern at CBC’s Royal Canadian Airfarce.

He was a reluctant reader as a child and, as a teacher, Barwin learned the importance of having books for reluctant readers. He indicates that he writes his sport books “like I write my scripts – filled with snappy dialogue and visuals that jump off the page” (“About – Steven Barwin”).

For more information, please visit Barwin’s site at


  • Realistic
  • Sports
  • Hi/Lo – Reluctant Readers

Curriculum Ties:


Booktalking Ideas:

  • Use the postcard to initiate the mystery.
  • Include in a baseball-themed booklist.
  • Include in a mystery booklist.

Hurricane Heat book trailer

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Interest level 12-18
  • Fry Reading level 3.3

Challenge Issues:


Why did you include this book?:

  • I reviewed this title originally for CM Magazine. I decided to include it because I felt that it is important to have hi/lo books represented.
  • Barwin is a well-known Canadian author.
  • Orca is an excellent source of resources for reluctant readers.



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