Always think in threes and you'll never fall, Cora's father told her when she was a little girl. Two feet, one hand. Two hands, one foot. That was all Cora needed to know to climb the trees of Brooklyn.
But now Cora is a middle schooler, a big sister, and homeless. Her mother is trying to hold the family together after her father's death, and Cora must look after her sister, Adare, who's just different, their mother insists. Quick to smile, Adare hates wearing shoes, rarely speaks, and appears untroubled by the question Cora can't help but ask: How will she find a place to call home?
After their room at the shelter is ransacked, Cora's mother looks to an old friend for help, and Cora finally finds what she has been looking for: Ailanthus altissima, the "tree of heaven," which can grow in even the worst conditions. It sets her on a path to discover a deeper truth about where she really belongs.
Just Under the Clouds will take root in your heart and blossom long after you've turned the last page.
"[A] heartbreaking yet hopeful story of a family searching for a place to belong." --Publishers Weekly
"[A] thought provoking debut about the meaning of home and the importance of family."--Horn Book Magazine
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 0.70(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Mom’s calling and I’m counting. My backpack’s tight on my back up here in the tree. Knees tucked neat over the branches. Bare feet dangling. One . . . two . . . three . . . I soar. Out and then down and I’m at the dirt, balancing on the tree’s roots, while Adare spreads out on a clump of Brooklyn brown grass, like a snow angel without the snow.
Excerpted from "Just Under the Clouds"
Copyright © 2018 Melissa Sarno.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is important, and it is good. It is full of grief, and loss, of small hopes, new friendship, and whimsy. Also trees. And crows. Sitting here, looking up at the huge sky, I want to tell her what I know: that the world is too big and you have to find your piece of it if you want to survive. Cora is 12, and since shortly after her father died, she, her mama, and her sister Adare have been homeless. She feels like her life is upheaval-- like she doesn't have a place in the world. She's still grieving her daddy, she struggles to understand Adare, who suffered brain damage at birth, and who she cares for her while her mama works. She has two nemesis at school-- Algebra, and a girl named Meredith. She also has her tree book, bequeathed to her by her father, where she maps out all the pieces of her world, and records observations about all the plants in her life, and a new friend, Sabina, who lives in a houseboat with her family. And she has the heaven tree-- a special tree her father studied. Throughout, Adare grows-- through grief, in understanding, in friendship. Cora's internal monologue carries this story, and it is beautifully and believably done. The themes of growth and home, Cora's rituals with her mama, her relationship with words and numbers, and Adare's love of elusive cats and crows hold the narrative together cohesively, and provide a lot of depth to what may seem a simple narrative on the surface. This book is interesting and engaging. It's important for children to see themselves reflected in the literature they read, and there are so many ways to connect with Cora. It also offers a window into what a homeless or grieving child experiences, for those who haven't lived through those things. I highly recommend this book for its targeted age group. I walk up close and run my fingers across the faded numbers on our place. I trace it. A number 7 and an A are smacked together. The answer to Ms. Alice's equation. 7A. Found.