Review: The Same Sky

The Same Sky, Amanda Eyre Ward

Amanda

Hardcover, 288 pages

Published January 20th 2015 by Ballantine Books

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

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From the publisher:

From the acclaimed author of How to Be Lost and Close Your Eyes comes a beautiful and heartrending novel about motherhood, resilience, and faith and a ripped-from-the-headlines story of two families on both sides of the American border.

Alice and her husband, Jake, own a barbecue restaurant in Austin, Texas. Hardworking and popular in their community, they have a loving marriage and thriving business, but Alice still feels that something is missing, lying just beyond reach.

Carla is a strong-willed young girl who ha€™s had to grow up fast, acting as caretaker to her six-year-old brother Junior. Years ago, her mother left the family behind in Honduras to make the arduous, illegal journey to Texas. But when Carla’€™s grandmother dies and violence in the city escalates, Carla takes fate into her own hands ”and with Junior, she joins the thousands of children making their way across Mexico to America, risking great peril for the chance at a better life.

In this elegant novel, the lives of Alice and Carla will intersect in a profound and surprising way. Poignant and arresting, The Same Sky is about finding courage through struggle, hope amid heartache, and summoning the strength ”no matter what dangers await €”to find the place where you belong.

This dual perspective novel introduces us to Carla, a young girl growing up in a slum in Honduras and to Alice, who runs a barbeque restaurant in Austin, Texas.  Their stories run separately for the length of the book and in the end I was kind of kicking myself for not seeing how they would intersect.

Carla is living a relatively decent life for her poverty stricken area.  She and her brothers are being raised by their grandmother.  Her mother is living in Texas and sends home money and fancy American clothing.  By comparison, Carla’s best friend leaves school to help his family eat by salvaging food and anything sellable from the garbage dump.  When Carla’s grandmother dies and her younger brother begins looking for drugs over food, she knows she has to try to find her way to America.  To write this book, Amanda Eyre Ward worked at shelters interviewing children who immigrated.  The journey that Carla and Junior take is harrowing and so many people make this choice every day.  Ward tells a powerful story of how desperate people are to try to make it to the United States – something everyone lucky enough to be a US Citizen should understand.  Carla’s life is not something a little girl should have to experience.  Psst – if you are looking for a great nonfiction book on the subject, Holly recommends Coyotes: A Journey through the Secret World of America’s Illegal Aliens by Ted Conover)

In contrast, Alice’s life is pretty good.  She and her husband have a crazy popular restaurant in Austin.  They are broken hearted though as the baby they believed they were going to adopt was taken back by his birth mother after 24 hours.  I think Alice is a character that women readers can relate to.  She wasn’t trying to be the perfect wife or friend or business person.  She was selfish in her grief – as you can be!  Though Carla and Alice could not have been more different they were both great strong female characters.  As I said, I probably should have seen where their lives would meet but I didn’t until the very end which I was glad for.

This was a really hopeful book for both Carla and Alice when it was over.  Even though I would not change the resolution at all, it felt as though things wrapped up a little too neatly.  However, I really loved how the book was finished from Carla’s perspective.  This was a fast read despite the weighty subjects and it definitely leaves you with a lot to think about.  If you want books like this I also highly recommend Prayers for the Stolen which I reviewed last week.

3 stars

Thank you Ballentine Books and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

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