Searching For Sky, by Jillian Cantor

There are some books where the bulk of my reading enjoyment comes at a distance from the text--an un-immersive reading experience of running commentary.   This is what happened to me in Life as We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, where I spent most of the book planning my own end of the world shopping trip, thinking critically about house heating, water supply issues, etc.  Perfectly enjoyable, but distant, and not all that emotionally invested.

This was what happened to me with Searching For Sky, by Jillian Cantor (Bloomsbury, May 2014, YA).

Sky and her mother, and River and his father, had left the United States for a peaceful life alone on a small island in the south Pacific, and life was good--sometimes a bit hungry, but good.  Then the two adults died when River and Sky were young teens, and River and Sky were alone...with even less to eat.   So when River sees a boat, he signals to it...and the two of them are rescued, and taken back to California.

Living with a grandmother she'd never known even existed, in a world of modern conveniences and social norms she has no clue about, Sky struggles to keep herself intact.  But worse than all those things is that she is separated from River...and it is like part of herself, her real self, is gone.  And gradually Sky learns the reasons why her mother took her to that far off island....and it is not a pretty story....And then she finds River again, and Sky at last thinks that her dream of escaping back to the island will come to pass...

So I enjoyed the story, liked Sky just fine, liked the dark secrets gradually revealed, found the ending solid, etc.   It was a fine book.

But all throughout I had Mental Commentary going full force--questioning details of island survival, and the likelihood that they wouldn't have been found sooner, questioning Sky's reactions to the modern world and the efforts of the grown-ups to instruct her (they did a pretty bad job, in my opinion.  An awful job. What they needed was an anthropologist/sociologist, not a shrink), questioning her grandmother's choices, questioning Sky's state of mind (it's told from her first person viewpoint, and I wasn't quite convinced that her voice was believable, given her up-bringing).   I had a lot to question, and this kept me from really accepting Sky's story qua story.

Of course, all this made it more interesting for me, and I enjoyed the reading of it just fine.  If you are looking for a YA mystery/suspense/romance, that isn't quite exactly any of those but is more a story of personal grown and exploration of life with more than a bit of sadness, you might well enjoy this one lots.

disclaimer:  review copy received from the publisher.


  1. I read this one, too, and felt exactly the same way re: Sky's grandmother's choices. Sky should have had a proper team of professionals handling her (re)introduction to the modern world. I also think she would have figured out how toilets work a little sooner, but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless!

  2. I still have moments of Life as We Knew It shopping daydreams...

  3. I think I read it about the same way. It was several months ago, and I never got around to writing about the book. One doesn't absolutely have to enter into the story or identify with one of the characters, to enjoy a book. There are certainly other ways.


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