First off, this book reviewing business is harder than I thought. Reading is my go to. My solace. My boredom buster. My company in the quiet moments (what are those again?). So I read. A lot. And there is so much other life happening that it can be hard to find the time and think through all I want to say about a book for you. A reader. A reader who deserves a thoughtful account in order to determine whether they want to spend their precious few quiet moments in the heads and hearts of a particular character or plot. And it’s hard to know what to say that might convey that and then time goes by and I’ve lost any real intelligent thought about the books I’ve finished. So, I will not abandon the effort, but let me just say I will save it for those about which I truly have something to say.
Which brings me to The Same Sky.
The Same Sky follows two parallel, yet seemingly unrelated stories – a nice device, actually, to keep you sucked in. Just how will these two disparate story lines merge? You know they have to, somewhere, somehow, or else what was the point? And so you keep following Carla, a Honduran child, abandoned by the adults in her life and trying to keep her and her younger brother alive; and Alice, a woman struggling with her inability to have children juxtaposed against the giant need for them while navigating an adoption system and process that has only led her and her husband to soul crushing disappointment. Add in some Texas barbecue, local Austin color, a horrifying trek across Mexico in an attempt to enter the United States and we’re talking beauty. Beauty in the ashes of the lives of two women, both still girls in many ways, both aged beyond their years in others, both navigating the world motherless, both wanting nothing but to believe in hope and to find that they are enough.
I want to write books like this. I find Amanda Eyre Ward‘s dialogue brilliant. Never too much. And what her characters do say? Boy, does it pack a punch. She has the unique ability of using simplicity to tell complex, emotionally fraught, horrifying at times tales. It’s a neat little trick and one I wish I could master. She tells you just enough, letting her reader fill in any necessary blanks, never lingering too long anywhere, but jam packing every paragraph, sentence, word with a sincerity and meaning that allowed the story to sit with me, whole and burning, in my mind and soul long after I put the book down. Alice and Carla are real to me. I picture them in their respective post-book lives. I wonder about them and imagine what their future holds. I hope the best for them.
The Same Sky is all you want in a story – heart-wrenching and true and an odyssey and a love story and an epiphany and home and loss and family and ending in hope, which is such a central theme to this story. Hope in the face of hopelessness, fighting for hope, hope that there is, in fact, hope somewhere, redeeming hope and hope redeemed.
I give this book five glorious stars out of five.
(When you finish this one, go read Forgive Me).