Young Adult Book Review: Between Two Skies
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The following review of Between Two Skies (Candlewick, April 25, 2017) by Joanne O’Sullivan is by Food, Fitness and Fiction Contributing Editor Joshua Flores (pictured below).
Here is a description of Between Two Skies from Amazon:
Hurricane Katrina sets a teenage girl adrift. But a new life — and the promise of love — emerges in this rich, highly readable debut.
Bayou Perdu, a tiny fishing town way, way down in Louisiana, is home to sixteen-year-old Evangeline Riley. She has her best friends, Kendra and Danielle; her wise, beloved Mamere; and back-to-back titles in the under-sixteen fishing rodeo. But, dearest to her heart, she has the peace that only comes when she takes her skiff out to where there is nothing but sky and air and water and wings. It’s a small life, but it is Evangeline’s. And then the storm comes, and everything changes. Amid the chaos and pain and destruction comes Tru — a fellow refugee, a budding bluesman, a balm for Evangeline’s aching heart. Told in a strong, steady voice, with a keen sense of place and a vivid cast of characters, here is a novel that asks compelling questions about class and politics, exile and belonging, and the pain of being cast out of your home. But above all, this remarkable debut tells a gently woven love story, difficult to put down, impossible to forget.
A single day can change your life forever. For Evangeline, Hurricane Katrina stole her old life away from her. It ruined her family’s simple life in Louisiana, it separated her from her best friend Danielle and it created division in her family. Trying to salvage any remnants of her old life, Evangeline is left with the scars of tragedy and the guilt that resides deep inside her heart.
In Joanne O’Sullivan’s most recent release, Between Two Skies, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and one Louisiana girl’s story of first love in the midst of tragedy is portrayed with complete honesty. O’Sullivan delivers a narrative that is sure to impact teens. The story tackles the emotional aftermath of the hurricane, rather than exploring the event itself, therefore providing more depth to the story. While simplistic at some points, Between Two Skies proves to be a romantic read that includes a cast of relatable main characters and a story that delves into one girl’s internal tragedy during a devastating natural disaster, creating a perspective rarely viewed in YA fiction.
The aspects of Between Two Skies I enjoyed most were the character development and the novel’s suspense. From having to leave her best friend behind to bear the storm to discovering hidden tensions within her own family, Evangeline’s story keeps readers engaged and interested as she discovers love and comes to terms with the resulting horrors in her life. The constant questioning if she and her best friend will be reunited and the plot twists involving her love interest, Tru, are sure to engage readers. Overall, I found Between Two Skies to be a thoughtful and well-developed portrayal of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I also found it to be a satisfying and romantic coming of age tale.
While the novel offers a lot to readers, some of the dialogue was flat and the plot felt a little repetitive at times. While not a major concern or deterrent in my mind, the number of slow scenes in the relatively short book was also a bit disappointing. It would have been interesting to see Evangeline actually experience the chaos of the hurricane, rather than retreating and focusing entirely on the fallout of the event, though I’m sure many readers with be completely satisfied because of the emphasis the book puts on the romance. For those looking for a touching and sweet story about young love and dramatic family situations, this is a perfect fit. For those looking for action, extreme intensity and a closer look at the actual hurricane, Between Two Skies may fall short of expectations.
Detailing the experiences of teenage Evangeline, Between Two Skies follows the challenges and destruction following a natural disaster and the things one will do to preserve love. With a romantic and dramatic tone, the novel can be enjoyed by young adult and adult readers alike. For those searching for a beautiful and vivid picture of life in Louisiana and a story about new beginnings and the importance of family and young love, Between Two Skies is a must-read.
To learn more about O’Sullivan, visit her website.
For other reviews of Between Two Skies, click on the following links:
Joshua Flores, a senior from Tustin, California, is currently an editor for the Beckman Chronicle and enjoys both reading and writing. He spends most of his free time writing, and coming up with weird characters for the novel he is working on. You can follow him on Instagram at @booklover41899.
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