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Flowers in the Sky

Flowers in the Sky

5.0 1
by Lynn Joseph

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Just about everyone from my country, República Dominicana, dreams of moving to New York City, except for me. On the flight to New York, my first time on a plane, my first time away from Mami, I was finally free to cry. But nothing came out. I watched as the green mountains of my beloved island slipped away far below.

Fifteen-year-old Nina Perez is


Just about everyone from my country, República Dominicana, dreams of moving to New York City, except for me. On the flight to New York, my first time on a plane, my first time away from Mami, I was finally free to cry. But nothing came out. I watched as the green mountains of my beloved island slipped away far below.

Fifteen-year-old Nina Perez is faced with a future she never expected. She must leave her Garden of Eden, her lush island home in Samana, Dominican Republic, when she's sent by her mother to live with her brother, Darrio, in New York, to seek out a better life. As Nina searches for some glimpse of familiarity amid the urban and jarring world of Washington Heights, she learns to uncover her own strength and independence. She finds a way to grow, just like the orchids that blossom on her fire escape. And as she is confronted by ugly secrets about her brother's business, she comes to understand the realities of life in this new place. But then she meets him—that tall, green-eyed boy—one that she can't erase from her thoughts, who just might help her learn to see beauty in spite of tragedy.

From the acclaimed author of the color of my words comes a powerful story of a girl who must make her way in a new world and find her place within it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Joseph’s quietly compelling novel captures both the colorful sun-filled atmosphere of 15-year-old Nina’s beloved seaside town, Samana, in the Dominican Republic, and the grit of New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Unlike most Dominicans, Nina has no desire to make “a better life” in New York; she loves Samana and is miserable when her mother sends her to live with her 28-year-old brother, Darrio, in Manhattan. Appalled by the noisy streets teeming with drug dealers and vulgarly dressed Dominicanos, she misses tending her garden and the flowers that were an integral part of her being: “Now I knew how it felt to be rudely uprooted and replanted in the wrong soil.” Joseph (The Color of My Words) keeps the suspense high as Nina tries to adjust to her new circumstances. Is the terse, green-eyed barber who sets her heart pounding worthy of her love, or a criminal? What to do about her levelheaded, ambitious schoolmate Carlos, whose feelings for her are more than platonic? And what kind of trouble is Darrio in? A moving, thoughtful coming-of-age story set against a realistic multicultural backdrop. Ages 13–up. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
A coming-of-age story chronicles the challenges of moving to a new land. Nina Perez loves her life in Samana, Dominican Republic, but her mother wants her to move to Nueva York, the land of opportunity, so 15-year-old Nina immigrates to Manhattan to live with her older brother, Darrio. Adjusting to life in the United States is hard, and through her idealized descriptions of life in Samana, readers feel Nina's distress at trading her lush, tropical homeland for the concrete jungle. Though Nina is glad to reunite with Darrio, she soon begins to question his lifestyle. Deftly painting her feelings of helplessness, Joseph ensures readers sympathize with the confusion and fear that hold Nina in paralysis. The story also offers romance in the form of handsome Luis Santana. Despite her feeling something's not quite right, Nina falls for Luis, though her reasons for doing so aren't entirely clear, as readers aren't privy to the majority of their conversations until late in the book. Luis' often demanding tone toward Nina is distressing, not to mention a worrisome example. Though imperfect, this story is a tale that needs to be told, its quiet, unflinching portrayal of a girl struggling to grow up in less-than-perfect circumstances an important one. (Fiction. 12-17)
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Nina Perez is perfectly happy living in Samana, Dominican Republic, but her mother is always harping on her to move to New York City and live with her brother, Darrio. Mami is sure Nina will have better schools to go to and many chances to marry a rich man, who will take care of Nina and Mami. Mami whines at Darrio to send them money, which he dutifully does. But when Nina goes to New York, she discovers how her brother is making his money. He sells stolen goods in exchange for a free apartment and a salary. Nina makes friends at her new high school, but she falls for an older boy, Luis Santana, with a street reputation of being a bad person. Nina misses being able to have a flower garden, so Darrio buys her an orchid to grow on the fire escape and soon she is growing lots of orchids to sell in the neighborhood. She starts up a friendship with Luis, even though Darrio and Mami disapprove and would prefer she date her smart school friend, Carlos. Eventually Darrio gets caught for selling stolen goods, but Luis protects Nina and tells her the story of how he got his tough-guy reputation. He tells her he is thinking of going to college. Nina also realizes how much pressure she and Mami have put on Darrio to support them over the years and how hard it has been on him. This is a nice story, well-told. It could lead to classroom discussions on cultural differences and learning to listen to people to see who they really are. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This story of family secrets, friendships, and a love of nature is a compelling read. Fifteen-year-old Nina's life in the Dominican Republic suits her just fine. Despite being poor, Nina has her garden, school, friends, and a mother with whom she is very close. But when Mami catches her flirting with an older boy, she is sent to live with her brother in New York City. Mami insists that going to New York will give her daughter a better life and pays for a false passport. Once in the city, Nina discovers that her brother is involved in something illegal and that he has lost interest in gardening, a passion that they once shared, even though he buys her orchids to raise on the fire escape. She realizes how hard he struggles to make enough money to send back to their mother. When she meets handsome Luis, her brother demands that she stop seeing him, but she disobeys. Nina is a strong heroine, and Joseph does an exceptional job of portraying flawed but sympathetic characters. The descriptions of life in the Dominican Republic and New York City provide interesting and realistic contrasts and show how immigrants keep much of their culture in a new environment as a matter of survival. This title fills a need for Latino literature, but it also tells a universal story with touches of mystery and romance.—Janet Hilbun, Texas Women's University, Denton, TX

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
13 Years

Meet the Author

Lynn Joseph was born in Trinidad and is the author of many picture books for children about her island home, including A Wave in Her Pocket, An Island Christmas, The Mermaid's Twin Sister, and Jump Up Time: A Trinidad Carnival Story. This is her second novel about the Dominican Republic, following her acclaimed book The Color of My Words, winner of the Américas Award. She has two sons, Jared and Brandt, and resides in New York and Bermuda.

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Flowers in the Sky 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Realy want thus started it in the book store was amaaazing