Searching for Sky
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Searching for Sky

5.0 2
by Jillian Cantor

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Sky and River have always lived on Island, the only world they've ever known. Until the day River spots a boat. Across Ocean, in a place called California, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she's just met. Here the rules for survival are different. People rely on strange things like cars and cell phones. They keep secrets from one

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Sky and River have always lived on Island, the only world they've ever known. Until the day River spots a boat. Across Ocean, in a place called California, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she's just met. Here the rules for survival are different. People rely on strange things like cars and cell phones. They keep secrets from one another. And without River, nothing makes sense. Sky yearns for her old life where she was strong and capable, not lost and confused. She must find River so they can return to Island, but the truth behind how they ended up there in the first place will come as the biggest shock of all.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Two teenagers, stranded on a deserted island for most of their lives, must acclimate to the modern world after they're finally rescued, in Cantor's (Margot) fascinating, existential coming-of-age story. Sixteen-year-old Sky—who's never known anyone but her companion River, her now-deceased mother, and the enigmatic Helmut—is suddenly forced to accept a grandmother who's a stranger and a world full of mysteries and contradictions, where words don't always mean what they seem. As Sky learns more about the Island from those around her, her positive memories are replaced by suspicion, anxiety, and uncertainty. All Sky wants is to reunite with River and return to the only place she considers home. Cantor shrewdly filters modern civilization through Sky's limited understanding—"So I get into Car Cave, and I let her tie a rope around me, which she promises will keep me safe"—but Sky ends up a fairly passive, reactionary protagonist as she struggles to understand complex human relationships against a backdrop that feels cold and foreign. The poetic portrayal of psychological isolation is hampered by superfluous subplots; nevertheless, Sky's story leaves a quietly haunting impression. Ages 12–up. (May)
From the Publisher

“An appealing and sensitive reverse-survival story.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Cantor (Margot, 2013) skillfully invites the reader to see our world and all its shortcomings and idiosyncrasies through Sky's questioning gaze. Readers will be captivated as Sky struggles to navigate her new universe, one that we know intimately but may never look at the same way again.” —Booklist

“The blend of mystery, romance, family story, and paradise versus civilization makes for a quick and compelling read.” —School Library Journal

“[A] fascinating, existential coming-of-age story . . . Sky's story leaves a quietly haunting impression.” —Publishers Weekly

“This title will circulate best in libraries with patrons interested in adventure and survival stories.” —Library Media Connection

“Cantor's ‘what if' story combines historical fiction with mounting suspense and romance, but above all, it is an ode to the adoration and competition between sisters.” —O Magazine, on Margot

Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Nancy K. Wallace
Sixteen-year-old Sky and eighteen-year-old River live alone on an island in the Pacific. They scavenge plants and rabbits from the land and fish from the ocean but food has become scarce. It has been over a year since Sky’s mother and River’s father, the last survivors of a shipwreck, ate poisoned mushrooms and died. When River sees a ship on the horizon, he starts a signal fire on the beach, relieved to be rescued. Sky rebels, the island is the only home she has ever known and she is afraid to leave it. Returning to California, Sky meets a grandmother she never knew she had and discovers River’s father, Helmut, was a cult leader guilty of poisoning his congregation. The 21st century looms—confusing and frightening—and when Sky is separated from River, her world falls apart. With sensitive strokes, the author draws her characters with exquisite detail. Sky’s relationship with River is tender and innocent. On the island, they depend on each other for everything. When they are forcibly separated, Sky loses any security she had. River’s childhood memories of helping to distribute the poisoned apples have been deeply buried. Unlike Sky, there is no one willing to mentor him and his naiveté costs him his life. Sky’s grief, first for her island home, and then for River, is heartbreakingly palpable. Shunning both her grandmother and Ben, the boy next door, she finds her only comfort in the ocean. This novel allows a unique glimpse of contemporary society through innocent eyes. Offering wide appeal to YA readers, this book will circulate well in most libraries. Reviewer: Nancy K. Wallace; Ages 12 to 18.
Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Mary Kusluch
This enthralling novel lets the reader see the world through the eyes of a confused and inexperienced island girl. Her search for her place in our world makes a beautiful story. Recommend this for anyone looking for adventure and love, but also the reality of pain and growth. Reviewer: Mary Kusluch, Teen Reviewer; Ages 12 to 18.
Children's Literature - Heather Christensen
At sixteen, the only life that Sky can remember is the simple one she has lived on Island, with her friend River, and—until they died mysteriously—her mother and River’s father, Helmut. But when she and River are rescued, everything she thought she knew about the world is turned upside down. Separated from River, to live with a grandmother she never knew existed, Sky is thrust unwillingly into a modern world with jeans, indoor plumbing, and the all-knowing Google. The plot, that at times challenges the suspension of belief, is rescued by Cantor’s complex, nuanced characters. Using a first-person narrative, Cantor helps readers connect with Sky’s mounting confusion and longing for the peaceful, idyllic realm from which she was so abruptly removed, while suggesting that Island was not the perfect world she remembers. The mystery of how they ended up on the island, Helmut’s role in the accident that left them shipwrecked, and her separation from River after their rescue, create a mounting suspense that is only resolved in the heartbreaking climax. Though Sky’s experience is unique, her search for identity and meaning in a complicated world will be familiar to teen readers, and the touch of romance adds to the appeal. Reviewer: Heather Christensen; Ages 13 up.
Kirkus Reviews
For Sky, contemporary California is a brave new world. As a young child, Sky was one of four survivors of a shipwreck. She has no memory of her life before she lived on Island, slept in Shelter and swam in Ocean. At 16, she now only has River, a slightly older boy, for company, and it's River who first spies the boat that will change their lives. Rescued from Island and brought to California, Sky struggles to navigate a new life she never wanted—one where she is separated from River and must live with her grandmother, who insists Sky's real name is "Megan." In the tradition of Emma Donoghue's Room (2010), the first-person, present-tense narration allows readers to see their familiar modern lives through Sky's fresh eyes, though Cantor occasionally ruins the effect by overusing the device. The development of secondary characters suffers to further the plot: Sky's grandmother is frustratingly inept at times, as is most of the "team of professionals" she assembles to help Sky acculturate. Nevertheless, it's still satisfying to see Sky's growth as the truth about her past is gradually revealed. Despite some shortcomings, an appealing and sensitive reverse-survival story. (Fiction. 12-17)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—"Sky" and "River" have grown up together on a deserted island where they live with Sky's mother and River's father. Now both of the parents are dead, and while Sky is quite content with their life, River wants to be rescued and returned to civilization. A ship does come, and the two are taken to California to be reunited with their families. River goes willingly, but Sky tries to escape and seriously injures herself. Because no one in his family wants him, River must find a job and fend for himself. Sky, who has to go by her "real" name Megan, is sent to live with her grandmother. The adjustment is difficult since she has never experienced modern conveniences. When she reunites with River, despite her grandmother trying to keep them apart, she finds out the truth about their families. The early parts of the novel echo moments from The Blue Lagoon film. After Sky's return to civilization, her thoughts and actions are at times unbelievable and inconsistent—so wise in some ways and so out of touch in others. Her simplistic practice of naming things doesn't ring true, especially since she was three years old when she left her original home and would have been speaking in sentences and both parents and River, having spent more time in the "real" world, would know more than basic nouns. Despite its flaws, the book sustains interest and should appeal to teens. The blend of mystery, romance, family story, and paradise versus civilization makes for a quick and compelling read for those who don't question details too closely.—Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

JILLIAN CANTOR is the author of several novels for teens and adults, including, most recently, Margot, a re-imagining of Anne Frank's sister in post-war America. Jillian lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

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Searching for Sky 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
It’s all they ever needed, their life was so simple but something was pulling River. Sky and River, I was jealous of their lifestyle, alone on Island, going about their daily tasks just looking out for each and making do with what they had. For fourteen years, they knew no different, and the earth provided for them and what it didn’t, they didn’t need. When River came back after seeing the boat, I knew their life would change. There’s no Bathroom Tree on boat, and the large boxes identifying themselves as beds were just a small glimpse of the changes these teens would face as they make their way into the strange world we call California. The simplicity of their ways gave way to complications and I was overwhelmed myself at everything that was changing so fast for these two teens. As River fades away, Sky’s world opened up and she fought the complicated world that surrounded her. Her mind is set on Island and she longs to return to it but she needs River to complete the journey. Grandma enlists the help of her neighbor Ben who is torn at his responsibilities. The implications of a cute, naïve, sixteen-year girl in the hands of another male teen, I had lots of scenarios going in my own head. Sky wants River but something is happening to Ben and his feelings towards Sky. Being confused and with the constant pressure on her to conform to be “normal”, I was hoping she wouldn’t change to fit someone else’s image. The future is uncertain but her past will always remain with her. The ending just wrecked me, I should have stopped reading around page 200 but I had to know. They had it all, their life was so simple; they had each other, the Island, a friendship and a lifetime of tomorrows, they left that behind to get a boat to see what California had to offer. Definitely a must read book!
WorldsCollide More than 1 year ago
An emotional, heart-breaking, gem of a read, Searching for Sky was a fantastic YA read. This book was just wonderful. This compelling book of a girl struggling to learn about modern life was heart-breakingly lovely and a truly enjoyable read. Sky was a lovely heroine. She was a very realistic character. She was a girl, raised in a paleolithic lifestyle, suddenly dropped into the modern world. She wasn't perfect. She struggled, lashed out, and resented the confusing new world she was stuck in. But, she was also strong, clever, and more resilient than people gave her credit for. I liked how her assimilation into the modern world was portrayed. It wasn't easy, it wasn't overnight, and it required a lot of turbulent emotions and struggle. Things that seem normal to the everyday person were totally alien to her and it wasn't going to be easy for her to learn about them. I liked how that wasn't glossed over and was shown so realistically. And, seeing her struggles made me more engaged in her character. She was wonderful and I really liked her. River was also great. In contrast to Sky, he wanted to return to the modern world because, unlike her, he had early memories of living there. Problem was, while he wanted the modern world, the modern world didn't want him, because something that happened in his past, while he still lived in California. I felt so bad for the poor guy. He was so sweet, a genuinely kind soul, but he was blamed for the crimes of another. His situation just broke my heart, not to mention what happened at the end. I absolutely adored him character. The romance was light, since Sky and River spend most of the book apart. But, even when they were apart, they were always thinking of each other. They already had a deep bond, after growing up so closely and it was only natural that it began to shift to something more. But, fate wasn't easy on them... The plot was fast paced and I was hooked the entire way through. I loved how the emotions in this book were portrayed so brilliantly and I felt each one. The secrets hidden in the past were totally shocking and I never suspected the truth behind Sky and River's lives on the island. I loved the story and the ending was heart-wrenching, a bittersweet conclusion with both hope and grief. It was certainly an ending to remember. Searching for Sky was a heart-breakingly lovely, deeply emotional, and utterly engaging read. I absolutely loved this book. Full of deep emotions and shocking secrets, it grabbed hold of my emotions and didn't let go, keeping me totally drawn into Sky's world. YA lovers, this book is a must read. *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review