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Notice what attracts your children's attention, even if they only look at the pictures. Then build on that interest; ... More
Summary: Sky Brightman, a seventh grader, lives with her family on a 60-acre ranch in Pecos, NM. On the farm, Sky doesn't have television, internet, or electricity; and despite having jobs in town, her family devotes itself to maintaining the ranch and their unconventional spiritual lifestyle. When a series of terrorist strikes causes an out-lash towards foreigners, Sky is forced to consider her opinion of right and wrong. In the chaos after the attacks, the president issues a law permitting the arrest and internment of persons from certain backgrounds. Sky already sees the effect on Kareem, a classmate from the Middle East. Kareem is being bullied and mocked, and Kareem's father, a colleague of Sky's mother, is taken. Sky's family takes in Kareem to protect him from being taken by the government, but ultimately he is taken, too. Can Sky save him? Prejudice, profiling, and society are central to this young adult novel.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book,
Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 13 and Up
Young Reader Reaction: Saving Sky offers an interesting premise, with moral questions definitely that are very relevant today. Sky is a good character, but sometimes her positive thinking and hope are a little overdone. The family's spirituality establishes Sky as a different student from the norm, which in turn justifies her reaction towards the incidents happening around her. I also liked Kareem, whose plight was very believable, as was the dilemma of being in a safe place but a world different than his own.
The message of help and kindness is very valuable. It shows how even a 7th grader can have a voice to speak against injustice. That said, the book tries to adapt a very complex subject to a teen audience. To me, the novel is about Sky's kindness, which could have come through without the charged background.
Adult Reader Reaction: Even though this is a fictional "takeover" of the US Government, the profiling and discrimination offer readers food for thought and open discussions about blind judgement. That said, the story itself is uneven, and the narration itself projects prejudice.
Pros: Saving Sky is a thought-provoking novel with timely, real-world events that can shape a reader's thinking.
Cons: This is a very complex, sophisticated topic, and some readers may find that too many details were left out.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This would be a good choice for introducing youth to modern-day societal issues and show them that paranoia and discrimination are not just "history lessons."
Educational Themes: This is a book meant to be shared and discussed. It could also be used in a history class as a parallel to other times when racial profiling, internment, and prejudice ruled the day.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - young adult, friendship, life lessons, historical fiction
Date(s) Reviewed: July 2014
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.