Escape Under the Forever Sky

( 5 )


Loosely based on real-life events, this suspenseful story, by a debut novelist, is also funny and touching and will have readers riveted from start to finish. Lucy's mother is the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, so Lucy's life must be one big adventure, right? Wrong. Lucy's worrywart mother keeps her locked up inside the ambassador's residence. All Lucy can do is read about the exotic and exciting world that lies beyond the compound walls and imagine what it would be like to be a part of it. That is, until one day ...

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Escape Under the Forever Sky

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Loosely based on real-life events, this suspenseful story, by a debut novelist, is also funny and touching and will have readers riveted from start to finish. Lucy's mother is the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, so Lucy's life must be one big adventure, right? Wrong. Lucy's worrywart mother keeps her locked up inside the ambassador's residence. All Lucy can do is read about the exotic and exciting world that lies beyond the compound walls and imagine what it would be like to be a part of it. That is, until one day Lucy decides she has had enough and she and a friend sneak off for some fun. But to their horror, Lucy gets kidnapped! With only herself to rely upon, Lucy must use her knowledge of African animals, inventiveness, will, and courage to escape, and in the process embarks on an adventure beyond her wildest imagination.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Lucy lives a suffocating life in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in Yohalem's debut, which was inspired by true events. With her mother working constantly as a U.S. ambassador and her life in Bethesda, Md., far away, Lucy is lonely and confined to the house because of her somewhat reckless nature. Most of her time is spent at school or with the house servant, an elderly Ethiopian man named Iskinder, who tells her stories of the country's history, traditions and power struggles. More than anything, Lucy wants to explore, free to discover the animals of the African forest and the Simien Mountains ("Africa is the only place I've ever been where human beings feel like just one small part of a vast and complicated earth"). When Lucy is kidnapped and held for ransom, she is finally given the chance to use her strength and wildlife knowledge to survive. Lucy's past and present are gracefully woven together, through well-integrated flashbacks, into a powerful picture of the life of a foreigner in Ethiopia. The story should appeal to all with a sense of adventure. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
Lucy loves animals and longs to meet more of them in the exciting environment of Ethiopia. Unfortunately, her mother is so protective she is barely able to leave the house. With such close supervision, Lucy and her friend Tana decide to sneak into town. The girls think they can handle anything, but they find people are not who they seem when their driver takes Lucy away from her home and her mother and everyone she knows. Finding herself alone and in danger, Lucy must rely on what she has learned about the country and herself to survive. Lucy reviews her experiences in Ethiopia and remembers small clues that help her formulate a plan. But how can she overcome her captors and survive in this unforgiving land? Which is the greater danger—her human captors or the lions that surround her when she tries to escape? Loosely based on a true story. Compelling narrative and exciting adventures that will have readers hooked from the start. Reviewer: Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
VOYA - Jamie S. Hansen
Being the daughter of the United States Ambassador to Ethiopia should be thrilling, but thirteen-year-old Lucy Hoffman is not even allowed to visit the markets, walk through the streets of Addis Ababa, or meet any locals except those she encounters at school. She feels like a prisoner, trapped by the walls of the embassy, her only escape in the books that she reads about African wildlife and twice-monthly trips to game parks. Even visits to her best friend can only take place with a driver in the BPM (bulletproof Mercedes), accompanied by Marine guards. When Lucy decides to rebel by sneaking away from her friend's house and lying to her driver, she is kidnapped by drug smugglers for a prisoner exchange. After a daring escape from her captors, Lucy finds she must use her knowledge of Africa and its plants and animals as well as her gymnastic skills to find her way to safety. Lucy's first-person narrative is absorbing, especially as she describes her escape and journey through a harsh and unforgiving landscape. Although Lucy seems irritatingly whiny, complaining about her restrictive life in the embassy, she changes during her incarceration to a surprisingly thoughtful and sensible person who appears much older than her years. Fascinating details of the peoples and culture of Ethiopia, as well as enthralling descriptions of Lucy's encounters with colobus monkeys, lions, hyenas, and warthogs, compensate for any narrative flaws. Booktalk this title and watch it fly off the shelves. Reviewer: Jamie S. Hansen
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

Chafing at the restrictions of being the American ambassador's daughter, 13-year-old Lucy sneaks out to the market in Addis Ababa, is kidnapped by drug dealers, and escapes into the Ethiopian bush where she faces a pride of lions. Based on a widely circulated news story of a kidnapping and lion rescue, this unusual adventure places a reassuringly typical American teenager in an intriguingly different setting. Bored by endless rounds of official visits and restricted to the American compound when not in her elite private school, Lucy whiles away her time reading books about African wildlife, dreams of her twice-monthly visits to a game park, and schemes ways to avoid her protectors. The first-person narrative includes flashbacks that reveal something of Lucy's life prior to the kidnapping. Caught up in the suspense, readers will probably accept how much Lucy's gymnastics training and naturalist reading contribute to her survival, as well as the coincidence of her ending up at the village home of a classmate. First-time novelist Yohalem researched her story with a visit to Ethiopia and her reportage may leave readers, like Lucy, wanting to know more about that world.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD

Kirkus Reviews
An American teen living in contemporary Ethiopia relies on raw courage and her knowledge of the local ecology when she's kidnapped in this debut novel based on a real-life event. Ethiopia should be the perfect place for 13-year-old Lucy, who devours books about African mammals. But she lives in the American embassy in Addis Ababa with her overly protective, workaholic mother, the U.S. Ambassador, who insists Lucy stay within the embassy compound. Bored and frustrated, Lucy sneaks out, is kidnapped and held prisoner in the countryside. After sizing up her captors, Lucy knows she must get away, even if it means heading out on her own without water into unknown territory inhabited by lions and hyenas. Lucy tells her story in the first person, alternating between events as she experienced them and flashbacks to her life before the kidnapping. Yohalem effectively conveys the immediacy of Lucy's terror and fear as well as her deep love for the natural beauty around her. How stalwart Lucy escapes and survives makes this an engrossing journey from innocence to experience. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811866538
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 4/15/2009
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,453,646
  • Age range: 10 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Eve Yohalem

After training as an opera singer, Eve Yohalem moved into the literary world first as an editorial assistant and then as the publisher of a Web site. She lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 30, 2009

    Great Book

    I gave this book to my granddaughter, who is a voracious reader. She loved it. Actually she couldn't put it down. Once she picked it up, she had to read it to the end. She is 9 years old and can't wait for Eve's next book to come out.

    Marilyn Wellesley

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2014


    I read the book before it was published at our school library for a school project and it was to this day 2 years after the most exilerating book I have ever read. It makes you shake in suspense, and ask questions about your self. I asked myself reapetedly throughout the book if I thought I could do what she did. Great book, any one who has the chance should read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2013

    Love it

    Love it you have inspired me to read more*escape undervthe forever sky* hope for you to write more books #awesome#book (age 10)

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for

    Thirteen-year-old Lucy Hoffman dreams of exploring the wilds of Africa - the hot desert sands beating around her and exotic animals around every corner for her to study. This wouldn't be so ironic if she didn't already live in Africa.

    As the daughter of the American ambassador, Lucy spends her days cooped up in a guarded compound in Ethiopia with only school and the occasional game drive through the local wildlife park to keep her entertained. She even got in major trouble when she snuck off to visit the marketplace with her two native friends. Her mother actually sent out a SWAT team of marines to retrieve her!

    Once she's finally allowed out again after that little incident, she and her friend Tana decide to sneak off for a concert at a local restaurant...and Lucy ends up kidnapped. Now, she really is out in the bush, fighting for her life and trying to escape her captors.

    She never thought she'd be exploring Africa this way, and all she wants to do now is return home. During her captivity and escape, we catch a glimpse into her memories as she travels back, thinking of different times in her life and how they've brought her to today. With limited access to food and water, and having no idea where in Ethiopia she is, Lucy must use her wits and acquired knowledge of African ecology to survive and find a way home.

    This endearing story about a headstrong, intelligent heroine is based on an actual incident that took place in Ethiopia in 2005. Although the real tale involved a native villager, this book works to bridge the gap between nationalities and point out that people of all cultures have the same goals, hopes, fears, and dreams.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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