Dear Blue Sky

Dear Blue Sky

4.2 11
by Mary Sullivan
     
 

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A timely, eye-opening novel showing how war affects families on both sides

Ever since her brother Sef left for Iraq, Cassie has felt like her life is falling apart. Her parents are fighting over her brother having gone to war. Her smart, beautiful sister is messing up. Her little brother, who has Down syndrome, is pretending he's a Marine. And her best friend no

Overview

A timely, eye-opening novel showing how war affects families on both sides

Ever since her brother Sef left for Iraq, Cassie has felt like her life is falling apart. Her parents are fighting over her brother having gone to war. Her smart, beautiful sister is messing up. Her little brother, who has Down syndrome, is pretending he's a Marine. And her best friend no longer has time for her. In her loneliness Cassie turns to a surprising source of comfort: Blue Sky, an Iraqi girl she meets through her blog. The girls begin a correspondence and Cassie learns that when Blue Sky says "I want my life back," she means something profound, as she can no longer venture out in her destroyed city. Cassie takes strength from Blue Sky's courage and is inspired to stop running away from the pain, and to reclaim her life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sullivan gets it right."—The Horn Book

"...captures the resilience and hope that keep [Cassie's family] going."—Publishers Weekly

"Ms. Sullivan's book is bold and lovingly written."—David Mamet, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright

Publishers Weekly
After Cassie’s larger-than-life older brother, Sef, leaves to fight in Iraq, the seventh-grader struggles without his stabilizing influence. Cassie’s family is faltering, too: her sister rebels with a new boyfriend; her mother drinks and has terrifying premonitions about Sef; and her younger brother, who has Down syndrome, stops speaking entirely. A school assignment prompts Cassie to find a blog written by someone her age in another country, and she begins corresponding with a 13-year-old blogger in Iraq who goes by the name Blue Sky. The teenager named her blog for the peaceful Iraq of the past, and she shares painful details about deaths, power outages, and having to stop attending school because of bombing. In her first children’s book, adult author Sullivan (Ship Sooner) effectively sketches Cassie’s growing confusion as she learns more and cultivates a more balanced view of the war while making new friends and resolving her own conflicts. Sullivan doesn’t sugarcoat how hard things are for Cassie’s family on the home front, yet captures the resilience and hope that keep them going. Ages 10–up. (Aug.)
The Horn Book

"The complexity of war is a challenge in a book for middle-schoolers, but Sullivan gets it right. Cassie's family, honest and hurting, behaves in ways disjointed, unpredictable, and also occasionally heroic. . . . Just as in war, Cassie finds there are no easy answers."
The New York Times Book Review

“Absorbing. . . . Shows how being forced to face the deadly realities of war can deepen a teenager’s understanding of life. . . . Cassie discovers both a dark truth about the world and a way to appreciate her own life.”
Booklist
Sullivan’s first novel for younger readers bears her trademark spare delivery, a good choice for Cassie’s tension-filled life. Fully dimensional characterizations bring depth to the story as Cassie matures and begins to understand the hard truths.
Children's Literature - Susan Phelan
Cassie's brother, Sef, has been the glue that holds her family together, but now he is leaving. He is a soldier and will serve in Iraq, leaving the family to cope without him. Everyone is affected in a different way: Dad is proud of his son, and ignores the suffering family; Mom overuses alcohol and prescription drugs; older sister, Van, begins drinking with her boyfriend; and younger brother, Jeff, stops talking. Cassie thinks it is her job to pull the family together and dubs herself "Supergirl," though she is suffering herself. Cassie also questions the war and begins a correspondence over the Internet with an Iraqi girl as part of a school assignment. Through "Blue Sky," Cassie finds that there is more to the war than what she learns on the news, that everyone is carrying some kind of burden, and that positive thinking is a key to pulling you through. Though the beginning of the story feels somewhat forced, it picks up and the voice of Cassie carries the story to a satisfying ending. A good middle school read in conjunction with a social studies or history class. Reviewer: Susan Phelan
Kirkus Reviews
Cassie's whole world changes when her beloved older brother, Sef, goes to war in Iraq. Before Sef even leaves, Cassie has nightmares about his demise. Once he's gone, her family jumps at every phone call. To complicate matters, her father supports the war; her mother doesn't. While her parents are preoccupied, her best friend, Sonia, inexplicably stops talking to her; her older sister, Van, tests out risky behaviors; and her developmentally delayed younger brother, Jack, becomes altogether silent. When a seventh-grade social-studies project leads her to a blog called Blue Sky, written by an Iraqi girl of similar age, Cassie starts to see the war from a different perspective. Blue Sky's world is more literally torn apart--her city is destroyed, her family is terrorized, their home is often without electricity and running water. While Sullivan strives to raise difficult questions about American involvement in Iraq, some efforts come across as forced. Yet Cassie's first-person narration effectively captures the messiness of life in a loving family when outside-world events intervene. Through it all, Cassie discovers her own strengths and rallies everyone around her, just as Sef would have wanted her to do. A compassionate portrait of a family struggling with painful changes, despite some heavy-handed moments. (Fiction. 11-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142426678
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
08/01/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
145,676
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

Related Subjects

What People are saying about this

Booklist

“Sullivan’s first novel for younger readers bears her trademark spare delivery, a good choice for Cassie’s tension-filled life. Fully dimensional characterizations bring depth to the story as Cassie matures and begins to understand the hard truths.”
From the Publisher

“Both timely and timeless. . . . The struggles that Cassie goes through are applicable to any era. Sullivan’s prose allows us to feel the bittersweet acceptance and love each family member has for the others, and we leave feeling the same for Cassie as she must feel for her brother: hope for her future well-being and the joy of living in the present.”
Library Media Connection

“Works on many levels. . . . Cassie is strong and level-headed. . . . Hand this to readers who are interested in family dynamics and who understand what it’s like to send a loved one to war.”

Meet the Author

 Mary Sullivan also wrote Stay and Ship Sooner, and has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award and a St. Botolph Foundation Award.

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Dear Blue Sky 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why is the book so sad some one tell me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shows you about the other side of the war. A great example of hope and trust.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First comment were you in dg because it sound very familiar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dear Blue Sky is a little sad,but its a great book.Cassie's brother is fighting in Iraq.When her teacher asks her to read a blog about something that interests her,Cassie instantly gravitates torward one by an Iraq girl.Cassie and the girl find they have several things in common despite their very different lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago