The Same Sky: A Novel

The Same Sky: A Novel

by Amanda Eyre Ward


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From the acclaimed author of How to Be Lost and Close Your Eyes comes a beautiful and heartrending novel about motherhood, resilience, and faith—a ripped-from-the-headlines story of two families on both sides of the American border.

Alice and her husband, Jake, own a barbecue restaurant in Austin, Texas. Hardworking and popular in their community, they have a loving marriage and thriving business, but Alice still feels that something is missing, lying just beyond reach.

Carla is a strong-willed young girl who’s had to grow up fast, acting as caretaker to her six-year-old brother Junior. Years ago, her mother left the family behind in Honduras to make the arduous, illegal journey to Texas. But when Carla’s grandmother dies and violence in the city escalates, Carla takes fate into her own hands—and with Junior, she joins the thousands of children making their way across Mexico to America, facing great peril for the chance at a better life.

In this elegant novel, the lives of Alice and Carla will intersect in a profound and surprising way. Poignant and arresting, The Same Sky is about finding courage through struggle, hope amid heartache, and summoning the strength—no matter what dangers await—to find the place where you belong.

Praise for The Same Sky

The Same Sky is the timeliest book you will read this year—a wrenching, honest, painstakingly researched novel that puts a human face to the story of undocumented youth desperately seeking their dreams in America. This one’s going to haunt me for a long time—and it’s going to define the brilliant Amanda Eyre Ward as a leading author of socially conscious fiction.”—Jodi Picoult, author of Leaving Time

“Riveting, heartrending, and beautifully written, The Same Sky pulled me in on the first page and held my attention all the way to its perfect conclusion. I devoured this book.”—Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train

“Ward is deeply sympathetic to her characters, and this affecting novel is sure to provoke conversations about immigration and adoption.”The New York Times Book Review

“A deeply affecting look at the contrast between middle-class U.S. life and the brutal reality of Central American children so desperate they’ll risk everything.”People

“Amanda Eyre Ward’s novel of the migrant journey, The Same Sky, is the most important book to come out of Austin this year.”The Austin Chronicle

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101883761
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 79,304
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Amanda Eyre Ward is the critically acclaimed author of five novels, including the bestseller How to Be Lost. She has spent the last year visiting shelters in Texas and California, meeting immigrant children and hearing their stories. This novel is inspired by them.

Read an Excerpt



My mother left when I was five years old. I have a photo of the two of us, standing in our yard. In the picture, my mother is nineteen and bone-thin. The glass shards on the top of our fence glitter in the afternoon sun and our smiles are the same: lopsided, without fear. Her teeth are white as American sugar. I lean into my mother. My arms reach around her waist. I am wearing a cotton dress, a dress I wore every day until it split along the back seam. When the dress fell apart, my grandmother, Ana, stitched it back together with a needle and thread. Finally, my stomach pushed against the fabric uncomfortably and the garment was just too short. By that time, my mother was in Texas, and for my sixth birthday she sent three new dresses from a store called Old Navy.

When I opened that box, it seemed worth it—growing up without being able to touch my mother, to press my face against her legs as she fried tortillas on the gas stove. One dress was blue-and-white striped; on one, a cartoon girl ice-skated wearing earmuffs; the last was red. My friends with mothers—Humberto, Maria, Stefani—they stared at my outfits when I wore them to school. Maria could not take her eyes off the picture of the girl on my dress. “She’s ice-skating,” I said.

“Your mother?” said Humberto, scratching at his knee. Though Humberto was always covered in mud and didn’t wipe his nose, I loved him and assumed we would be married in due time.

“Probably, yes, her too,” I said, lifting my chin. “But I meant the girl on my dress. See? She wears earmuffs and gloves. Because it’s cold. And the ice skates, obviously.”

“Ice is frozen water, but a lake of it,” added Stefani, whose mother had been my mother’s best friend. Only my mother had been brave enough to leave, once my grandmother had saved enough for the coyote.

My mother sent money regularly and called every Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday was her day off from working in the kitchen of a restaurant called Texas Chicken. I imagined her wearing a uniform the color of bananas. There was a movie we had watched standing outside the PriceSmart electronics store where an actress with red hair wore a banana-colored uniform and a tidy waitress hat, so when my mother described her work, I dressed her in this outfit in my mind. My mother told me her feet hurt at the end of her shift. My feet hurt, as well, when I wore the high-heeled shoes she’d sent. I needed shoes for running, I told her, and not three weeks later, a package with bright sneakers arrived.

There just wasn’t much for any of us in Tegucigalpa. We lived on the outskirts of the city, about a twenty-minute walk from the dump, where the older boys and men from our village worked, gathering trash that had value. Humberto’s older brother, Milton, left early in the morning. In the dark, he returned, his shoulders low with exhaustion and his hair and skin holding a rancid scent. Still—and to me, inexplicably—he had girlfriends. Though I had imagined what it would be like to kiss almost every boy in our village, I never closed my eyes and pictured Milton’s lips approaching—it seemed impossible to want to be close to someone who smelled so bad. He was handsome, however, and supported his family, so there was that.

My grandmother took in laundry, and we always had enough food, or most of the time. Mainly beans. I had twin brothers who were babies when our mother left and were starting to walk around uneasily when I turned six. They had a different father than I did, and none of our fathers remained in our village. Who knew if they were alive or dead and anyway, who cared.

This was how it was: most days our teacher came to school and some days he did not. When he had not come for three days, Humberto and I decided to go and find him at his house. We did not have bus fare and so we walked. We passed the city dump and watched the birds and the men and the boys. We split an orange Humberto had stolen from the market. We plodded through the hot afternoon, and around dinnertime (if you had any dinner) we reached our teacher’s address.

The front door was open. Our teacher and his wife were dead, lying next to each other on the kitchen floor. The robbers had taken everything in the house. Our teacher, like me, had a mother in America, in Dallas, Texas, a gleaming city we had seen on the television in the window of the PriceSmart electronics store. The point is that our teacher had many things—a watch, alarm clock, boom box, lantern. Luckily, our teacher did not have any children (as far as we knew). That would have been very sad.

Humberto cried out when he saw the bodies. I did not make a sound. My eyes went to my teacher’s wrist, but his watch was gone. His wife no longer wore her ring or the bracelet our teacher had given her on their one-year anniversary. The robbers had taken our teacher’s shoes, shirt, and pants. It was strange to see our teacher like that. I had never seen his bare legs before. They were hairy.

Humberto and I walked home. We were not allowed to be out after dark, so we walked quickly. We wondered whether we would get another teacher. Humberto thought we would, but said he might stop going to school and start going with his brother to the dump. They needed more money. They had not had dinner in two nights, and he was hungry.

“If you smell like your brother,” I said, “I cannot be your girlfriend anymore.”

“Are you my girlfriend?” said Humberto.

“Not yet,” I said. “Not ever, if you smell like Milton.”

“When?” asked Humberto.

“When I’m eleven,” I told him.

He walked ahead of me, kicking the dirt. He shook his head. “I’m too hungry,” he said finally. “And that’s too long.”

“Race you,” I said. As we passed the dump, the birds shrieked: awful, empty cries. Yet the air on my skin was velvet, the sky magnificent with stars.

“Go,” said Humberto. We ran.



Jake and I weren’t sure what to do about the party. Benji had sent out an e-vite to all our friends and the whole Conroe’s BBQ staff before Naomi changed her mind about giving us her baby, and what else were we going to do with the afternoon? Just not show up? Just stay home and stare at Mitchell’s empty crib? (An aside: it was also possible that Mitchell was no longer named Mitchell. Naomi might have changed her mind about that as well.) In short, we went to Matt’s El Rancho on South Lamar.

Benji had gone all out. It was fantastic: a cake with blue frosting, baby presents piled high. There were margaritas and nachos, beef flautas and queso flameado. Jake ordered tequila shots like the old days. For about twenty minutes there was small talk, and then Lucy DeWitt said, “Well? Where is the little cutie?”

“Oh, Christ,” I said. “Well, it didn’t work out, in the end.”

Jake raised his arm to signal the busboy, pointing at our empty shot glasses. “Dos más,” said Jake.

“Oh, honey,” I said, putting my hand on Jake’s shoulder and looking at the busboy apologetically. It was offensive to assume he didn’t speak English, and also offensive to speak Spanish as badly as Jake did. I didn’t speak Spanish at all, but I was going to immerse myself some summer soon.

“More tequila?” said the busboy.

“Yes, please,” I said.

Jake said, “Sí, sí.”

“What didn’t work out?” said Benji, his brow furrowed. “What do you mean, Alice?”

“The birth mother has forty-eight hours to change her mind,” explained Jake. “And our . . . and we . . .” Jake’s eyes grew teary, and he put his palm over his face. I stared dully at the burn scar on his thumb.

“She took the baby back,” I said. “She just . . . we had him at our house. We had him on the couch, and even on top of our bed. We put him in clean diapers and a swaddling blanket. He slept in his crib. And then she . . . she changed her mind.”

“They came and got him this morning,” said Jake.

“Oh my God,” said Lucy.

“Maybe she’ll . . . maybe it’s not . . . ,” sputtered Carole, an English teacher at Chávez Memorial High School, which was located three blocks from Conroe’s BBQ.

“Anyone want a flauta?” I said, passing the tray. We didn’t mention Mitchell again, and Jake and I left the restaurant without the baby gifts. We were pretty drunk, so Jake called Austin Taxi from the Matt’s El Rancho parking lot. On the ride home, I rested my head on my husband’s shoulder, watching the bright signs outside the cab window as we crossed the interstate to the Eastside: We Buy Gold Emporium, Churros Aqui!, Top Dawg’s Bar and Grill. I told the driver to hang a right after Frank’s Coin Laundry, where I brought our clothes every Monday when Conroe’s was closed. Two blocks later, Jake said, “Here we are.”

2215 Mildred Street—our home. We’d bought it from an elderly black woman who was moving to Pflugerville, joining the exodus of black families from downtown Austin’s Eastside to the sprawling suburbs. It was a cottage, really: one thousand square feet of termite-nibbled hardwood. Jake and his father had painted the house a glossy white, added black shutters to the windows, erected a picket fence around the yard. I’d bought two brass lanterns to hang on either side of our hunter-green door. On one of our evening walks around the neighborhood, we’d found a broken porch swing. Jake used his welding equipment and a few cans of Rust-Oleum to restore the swing, hanging it on the front porch. In the backyard, we’d planted a lemon tree and a row of bamboo. We could be poster children for Eastside gentrification, but we were not ashamed. We’d made a home for ourselves on Mildred Street, same as the crazy lady at 2213 and the young family at 2217. Same as Omar Martinez, who lived across the street and worked at Juan in a Million, home of the best hangover breakfast in town.

Our house was dark. As the cab pulled away, Jake sank into the porch swing and I let myself inside. This had been, we’d vowed, the last chance. I was infertile, and our hopes for adoption had about run out. We had borrowed every last dime available to try to impregnate a kind but stoic surrogate in Detroit named Janeen. After Jake and I had flown to Michigan seven times, Janeen said—kindly and with stoicism—that she needed to close this chapter and move on. She was now pregnant with a Brooklyn man’s sperm. I knew because I read her blog.

In the decade we’d been trying to have a baby, our life had become a symphony of failure, almost rapturous with dramatic and dashed hopes. Pregnant women contacted us through our adoption agency, but then chose another couple, kept the baby, or (in one case) turned out to be a nut job who’d never been pregnant in the first place. I’d maintained a website advertising our cheery life and happy home (writing corny stories about how we’d met; what our days at Conroe’s BBQ were like; and what sports, religion, and hobbies we’d teach our youngster), but though we received emails aplenty, none of the desperate people perusing the site had decided to bless us with a baby.

In the Detroit airport, after Janeen’s announcement, Jake told me he was done. In the Fuddruckers restaurant next to Gate C17, he grabbed my hand and begged me to stop. Exhausted and low, I agreed to deactivate our adoption file, to close this chapter, to move on with grace, gratitude, and all that crap. We embraced, ignoring the stares of the other Fuddruckers patrons. I felt, when we were aloft and sailing through the sky toward Austin, that maybe we would be okay. But then Naomi had chosen us, and baby Mitchell had come.

The night before, I’d fed him. Small and dark, with a cap of black curls, Mitchell had opened his brown eyes and looked at me. “I’m your mommy,” I said, tasting the precious words. I fit a bottle between his lips and watched him suckle, felt his body ease. As I held him, he passed with a tiny shudder from wakefulness to sleep. The moon outside his window was full. I was full. And then the agency called.

I went to Jake, brought him a beer. He opened it and drank, then I grabbed the can and took my own mouthful. The beer made the pain a bit less sharp, just for the evening. “Oh, God,” I said, sitting down next to Jake, breathing the sultry air. The moon was still round and bright.

“I wish I knew what the point of this was,” said Jake. “Or would you say were?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “and I don’t care.”

“Fair enough,” said Jake.

People always seem surprised when they first meet me and Jake. He’s good-looking and sure of himself, a blond former football star. In contrast, I’m nervous and dark-haired, more comfortable in the backcountry than at a country club. If Jake is a lion, regal and handsome, I’m a wren: fragile, easily spooked, ready to take flight. Somehow, though, it works. At night, I tuck myself into a ball, and Jake surrounds me, and I am warm.

In the moonlight, I saw a figure emerge from Beau and Camilla’s house next door. “Hello?” called Camilla. As she approached, I could see she was carrying a metal pot.

“We’re drinking on the swing,” admitted Jake.

“I am so sorry,” said Camilla. Her Nigerian accent made the words especially sad somehow.

“Did you see them take the baby?” I asked.

Camilla hesitated, then nodded. Camilla and Beau had two daughters who had inherited their father’s light hair and their mother’s feisty attitude. “I made soup,” said Camilla, unlatching our gate.

“Thanks,” I said. I made a move to stand, but Camilla shook her head.

“I’ll put it in the kitchen,” she said, climbing our three front steps, opening the door. I heard her set the pot on our stove, and then she reappeared. “We’re here, if you need anything,” she said. “I mean, we’re there,” she said, pointing.

“Thanks,” Jake and I said in unison. We watched Camilla walk across the alley back to her home, where her family waited for her.


Excerpted from "The Same Sky"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Amanda Eyre Ward.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

A Conversation between 
Amanda Eyre Ward and 
Christina Baker Kline

Christina Baker Kline is a novelist, nonfiction writer, and editor. She is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Orphan Train, a novel about an unlikely friendship between a seventeen--year--old Penobscot Indian foster child and a ninety--one--year--old Irish American widow who was one of several hundred thousand orphans to be transported from crowded East Coast cities to foster homes in the Midwest during the late nineteenth and early twen-tieth centuries. Christina’s other novels include Bird in Hand, The Way Life Should Be, Desire Lines, and Sweet Water.

Christina Baker Kline: I read The Same Sky six months ago and still carry it around in my head. Your writing is vivid and immediate; you tell a complex story in such an accessible way. The reason I think it’s so memorable is that you build scenes with vivid specific details, use humor as a valve, and write about your characters with compassion and depth. They are fully human. Tell me—-how did you pull that off?

Amanda Eyre Ward:
I know that some writers start with a plot or setting, but for me, everything begins with my characters. I see them in my imagination, and follow them wherever they want to take me. (I have learned from experience that trying to force them to go where I want them to is a futile and wasted effort.)
I spend a lot of time taking care of my children and not getting words on the page, so I try to use this time to gather details about my characters: If I’m grocery shopping, I ask myself, What would Alice buy for dinner? If I’m driving to a birthday party, I think, Which street might lead to Evian’s house?
I’m a huge reader, and if I’m invested in a character, I won’t put down the book. So when I wanted to write about unaccompanied minors and their journey to the U.S. border, I knew that Carla’s character was key. Luckily, her voice came to me. Carla’s voice mirrors many of the unaccompanied minors I met: feisty, funny, brave, hopeful.

How did you come to be interested in unaccompanied minors?

I had been working on my fifth novel for two and a half years when my agent told me it was terrible. For months, I stumbled around in a haze of misery. During the hours I’d previously spent working, I read everything I could get my hands on.
I read Enrique’s Journey, the nonfiction account of a boy traveling from Honduras to reach his mother in America, after reading a profile of Sonia Nazario in the alumni magazine of Williams College, which we both attended. The book grabbed me immediately—-Nazario’s research was dangerous and important, and I wanted to read more about children like Enrique. I searched the Web for stories, transfixed by kids my own children’s ages who were walking away from everything they knew to try to reach their mothers and fathers in America. As I tucked him in at night, I tried to visualize my own ten--year--old son bringing my six--year--old (and one--year--old!) on such a dangerous trek. It was impossible to imagine.
I met Alexia Rodriguez, whose organization, Southwest Key, runs many of the shelters at the border. Alexia brought me to Brownsville, Texas, where she introduced me to unaccompanied minors and I spoke to them about writing.
I also talked to the children about why they had left, what horrors they had faced along the way, and what they hoped to find. One girl told me about watching her friend being attacked by an alligator and being forced by her -coyote to leave the ailing girl behind. I met a five--year--old whose parents had left him when he was an infant. They lived in New Jersey, and he was due to be reunited with them in the morning. I heard about boat trips, plane trips, and how hard it is to sleep on The Beast.
And I met children who had been assaulted. Some of the girls were pregnant—-their eyes dark and flat, their hair clean from the shelter showers. They wore pink sweatsuits and told me stories I will never forget.
That night, I lay awake, unable to sleep. It was excruciating to think about the kids just a few miles away. They were so brave and so alone. They were filled with a faith I envied, the belief that God was with them and that they would find peace (and be loved) in America. I tried to think of what to do to help them but came up with nothing.
In the middle of the night, I heard a voice, the first sentence of a new novel: My mother left when I was five years old. And though I never thought I’d hear the voice of a young Honduran girl in my imagination, I listened. In the morning, the entire arc of the novel was clear to me. I could get one fictional girl to her mother, and that was a small something.

CBK: Since Carla’s voice and story arc came to you so clearly, why did you decide to incorporate Alice into her story?

AEW: During my research, I watched some videos of Father Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, who runs a shelter for migrants in Ixtepec, Mexico. (Carla and Junior come to this shelter in the book.) Father Solalinde Guerra said something that resonated deeply with me: these children have the spiritual capital that Americans need. I was very struck by this thought, and found it to be true. The children I met at the border, who literally have no material goods, have a sense of faith and hope—-a belief that they are and will be taken care of—-that I am often lacking.
I wanted to create a character who has the trappings of the American Dream—-a successful business, a house, even a kind and supportive husband—-but who yearns for something else, something deeper. She needs the spiritual capital that Carla possesses in abundance.
The main characters in your novel Orphan Train come from very different backgrounds as well. In your mind, how do you see their stories as fitting together?

CBK: Similar to what you were saying about how Carla’s character came to you, I find that when you write novels you go on instinct much of the time. As I began writing about Molly, a seventeen--year--old Penobscot Indian foster child, believe it or not I didn’t immediately notice parallels to Vivian, a wealthy ninety--one--year--old widow. But as I wrote my way into the narrative I could see that in addition to some biographical parallels—-both characters have dead fathers and institutionalized mothers; both were passed from home to home and encountered prejudice because of cultural stereotypes; both held onto talismanic keepsakes from family members—-they are psychologically -similar. For both of them, change has been a defining principle; from a young age, they had to learn to adapt, to inhabit new identities. They’ve spent much of their lives minimizing risk, avoiding complicated entanglements, and keeping silent about the past. It’s not until Vivian—-in answer to Molly’s pointed questions—-begins to face the truth about what happened long ago that both of them have the courage to make changes in their lives.

AEW: As I read Orphan Train, I was struck with the thought that unaccompanied minors have a great deal in common with the children you write about. Do you think?

CBK: I do. There are so many parallels in these stories of the orphan train riders and the border kids. One thing that I’ve learned in my research is that every immigrant group that comes to this country faces some kind of hazing process. When people are assimilated, they tend to forget that their ancestors (or even near relatives) were once poor, dispossessed, and alien. These stories force us to face that fact.

AEW: I finished reading Orphan Train, closed the book, and continued to think about the strength those children found in the face of such profound disappointment. The unaccompanied minors I met were also incredibly courageous. . . . I hope that readers can listen to Carla’s story and be inspired.

1. At the beginning of the novel we learn that Carla’s mother left for Texas when Carla was just five years old. How does that experience shape Carla, for better or for worse?

2. Carla and Alice come from very different backgrounds, but their lives are ultimately connected. What qualities or personality traits do they share?

3. Carla’s journey to Texas is life-threatening and heartbreaking, but she never gives up. Where do you think she derives her strength and faith from?

4. Jake becomes very angry about the way Alice handles the situation with Evian. Do you think his anger is justified? Why or why not?

5. What do you think Alice learns from her relationship with Evian? How does it contribute to her broader outlook?

6. Through the different experiences of Alice, Jane, and Carla, the author explores three unique attitudes toward motherhood. What resonated with you about the experiences of all three characters as they reflected on the idea of motherhood and its role in their lives?

7. At various points in the novel, Alice and Jake disagree about whether or not they should continue trying to adopt. What would you do if your spouse told you that he or she couldn’t take the heartbreak of any more failed adoptions?

8. Despite her best efforts to protect him, Carla is ultimately left with no choice about what to do with Junior. Do you agree with her decision? Can you imagine what you might have done in her shoes?

9. After Alice and Jane lose their mother to ovarian cancer, and considering Alice’s own battle with breast cancer, Alice can’t understand why Jane still refuses to find out if she’s at risk as well. Jane maintains that she’d rather live freely with risk than miss out on certain parts of life. Which sister do you agree with? Why?

10. Throughout the novel the narrative alternates between Carla’s perspective and Alice’s. Was there ever a point when you wished you could find out what was going on with the other character? When did this happen and why do you think you felt such a strong pull?

11. Were you surprised by how things turned out for Carla and Alice? Why or why not?

12. The issue of undocumented immigration is clearly essential to the plot of The Same Sky, and is a hugely polarizing part of the American experience today, but it doesn’t overpower the other themes in the novel. How do you think the author achieved that balance?

13. In addition to undocumented immigration, The Same Sky deals with issues of love, motherhood, personal health, rape, adoption, economic inequality, and many more. Of all the themes addressed in the novel (whether explicitly or implicitly), which was the most thought provoking for you? Why?

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The Same Sky 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars It’s about dreams, it’s about hope and it’s about determination. After reading The Same Sky, I had to take a moment and think about the journeys these characters took in their lives, their resilience and their willpower. For Alice, it may seem that she is living the dream with a supportive husband, successful business and plenty of friends but what she is missing is a child. Unable to conceive, the couple has tried countless means to resolve this issue without success. In the back of her mind, a void is there yet to see her with her positive attitude and energy you wouldn’t know that her heart is heavy. We also get to know Carla who tore at my heartstrings. Her mother lives in the U.S. and sends money back to Carla and other family members who live in Honduras. As I read this, I immediately had mixed feelings as how could a mother leave her child behind and go so far away. Yet her mother sends them money, calls and provides hope to them, I am torn over this relationship immediately. Carla’s world start to explode and she wants her mother and feels it’s time to escape to the U.S. with her brother. The anxiety of leaving and the stress of the unfamiliar are taxing on both Carla and me, as I read the words as Carla attempts her escape. Being a female and now having to rely on others, these days on the road provide an experience more horrific than she imagined. The journey these women take and how they immerge into one; it’s all about not giving up your dream, it’s about having heart and strength to survive. Told in alternating chapters, this captivating story showed me inside the lives of these two amazing woman. I kept waiting to see where the stories would emerge into one and it wasn’t until the end which surprised me, but I thought it was perfect for this book. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story of human struggles.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly enjoyed every moment of this book. Well written with pleasing character development.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very moving book.
SherreyM More than 1 year ago
Two heartbreaking stories set in strikingly different countries--America and Honduras. A little girl and a 40-year old woman with poignant, painful circumstances about which neither one knows how to resolve. Amanda Eyre Ward has taken a young girl, Carla, feeling lost and lonely without her mother who has headed to America to make a living to provide for her daughter, four-year old twin boys, and her mother. Ward paints an equally sad and arresting story of Alice Conroe, 40 years old with her biological clock wound down. Alice and her husband desperately want a child, and each attempt to adopt falls foul of success. Alternating Carla and Alice's stories in each chapter, the reader gains insight into two critical areas of life not always familiar to every individual. Carla's life in Honduras is one of seeking food in the garbage dump and living in fear of being attacked or murdered. It is no wonder these people take such chances to enter America, whether legally or illegally. And what they go through in their efforts to arrive here is unbelievable. Alice's dream of a child of her own seem to be defeated at every turn creating problems between her and her husband. And yet their love is strong enough to survive. Just as Carla's determination for a better life provides for her survival. I fell in love with both Carla and Alice, and I hoped they would become parent and child. But even better the comparison and contrast between the stories brought home with greater power the human will which carries us through times of despair, depression, want and immense need. This is my first Amanda Eyre Ward read, and it will not be my last. Her writing is powerful and yet filled with bits of humor in Alice's story, which is needed from time to time. Ward draws evocative pictures of her characters, real people, people you want to know. Recommendation: The Same Sky is not an overly long book, and the story line moves quickly. If you want a well written, heart tugging book filled with the human longing we all share, The Same Sky would be a good book for you to pick up. Perhaps you have read Ward's other books and if so, she has written a winner here. Note: I received a copy of The Same Sky from Ballantine Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.
TheGrumpyBookReviewer 10 months ago
The Same Sky, by Amanda Eyre Ward, is the first of three books chosen by my local United Methodist Women’s circle to read this summer for our monthly coffee meetings. This book and its characters will stay with me for a very long time. It is simultaneously the story of a couple (Alice and Jake) who desperately want a baby, but cannot have one, and a pre-teen girl (Carla) who is raped and robbed of her little bit of food and money on the long journey from Honduras to the United States. Yes, Carla enters illegally. When Carla was five years old, her 19-year-old mother left her and her little brother with their grandmother. After the death of their grandmother, Carla is left alone to raise her 6-year-old brother. Theirs is a poverty-stricken life of scavenging for food at the local dump, only to have it stolen by gang members. This is how she becomes one of millions of unaccompanied children fleeing violence and poverty in third-world countries. Carla points out something many Americans forget: “having enough enables you to forget you are not in charge of your life”. Having been at the point of starvation most of her life, Carla decided she “looked forward to becoming as plump as an American”. Little did she know how unhealthy the diet of most Americans actually is. Alice and Jake have their own problems, but none so desperate as those of Carla and millions like her. Owners of a popular barbeque restaurant in Austin, Texas, they are featured in Bon Appetit. Business is doing well, and they are happily married. Still, something is missing. After arriving in the U.S., and finding her mother, Carla makes the agonizing decision to give up her baby for adoption so she can work and go to college. The story reaches the conclusion that is obvious the minute Carla shows signs of pregnancy: Alice and Jake adopt her baby. Unfortunately, these situations do not end happily for everyone. Many people who would make wonderful parents never get to adopt. Many people fleeing gangs, robbery, rape, and starvation never make it to “the land of opportunity.” Yes, we all live under The Same Sky, but our lives are almost unbelievably different. What Makes This Reviewer Grumpy? Despite the usual punctuation and grammatical errors, the book is well-written, and flows smoothly: • lots of split infinitives; • missing commas; • misspelled words: “preventative” is not a word – it is “preventive”; • misplacement of the word “only” within sentences; • beginning sentences with conjunctions; • “bring” vs. “take” and “brought” vs. “took” (we bring things here; we take things there).
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
This book sucked me in right away. I couldn't remember much about the description when I started reading it. I only remembered that it was about immigration. The short chapters and alternating voices pulled me in, and I couldn't put this book down. I flew through it in 2 nights. It's short. Only 270 pages. Alice is a woman in Texas desperate for a baby. She and her husband have tried everything, and most recently the birth mother changed her mind and took their son, Mitchell, away after one night. She is sad and broken and unable to share her grief with her husband. Carla is a young girl growing up in Honduras in extreme poverty. Her mother has left her and her twin brothers behind with their grandmother. She went to Texas to work and send money back to the family. Carla yearns for her mother as she struggles to survive, trying to figure out how to escape to Texas to find her. Both character's stories were heart breaking, yet hopefully because I knew the two stories would come together in the end. Although the book didn't end as I was expecting. The writing was so compelling. Most of it was conversation, so it made for a very quick read. I liked Carla's chapters best, and although they were hard to read at times, I was completely riveted. If you like stories about strong female characters, coming of age type books, or tales of desperation turned hopeful, I highly recommend this book. Warning: There is a lot of talk about Texas BBQ in this book as Alice and her husband own a restaurant. Do not read this book hungry. ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The ending was really stupid. The author had to be desparate for a way to stop!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
crossword69 More than 1 year ago
This was a quick read with believable characters, however it was a little predictable. Not a great book for this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful book by a very talented writer. Through alternating short chapters, the two main characters ( a young girl and a 40 year old married woman) reveal their stories and tell of of their struggles and heartbreak. The two voices are distinct and separate and lend credibility to the storyline. There is an intimacy to the writing; the author has an uncanny ability to make the reader feel like they are with each character, experiencing their pain and sadness. Beware.....once you start reading this book, you won't be able to put it down!
lynnski0723 More than 1 year ago
I love a book that makes me feel, and this one does just that. While reading this book you will feel compassion for the 2 main characters over and over again. They each have their own needs and wants and struggle to obtain them. During their lows, you want to reach into the book to give them a hug and tell them it will be OK, that you are there for them. During their highs, you want to give them a little “way to go” congratulatory pep talk. Yes, you will become that attached. The book is composed of two separate stories told in alternating chapters. One is the story of a young girl in Honduras and her quest to be reunited with her mother in America. The other is the story of a young woman in Texas who is unable to have children but craves motherhood. At one point in the book you will probably figure out how the two stories will eventually tie in together, but I’m not going to tell you because you just might be wrong. If you would like to read a non-fiction book regarding a young boy’s journey from Honduras to America riding the trains, I highly recommend “Enrique’s Journey” by Sonia Nazario. Now that book was an eye-opener for me that I still think of whenever the topics of immigration and the American borders come up. And I read it years ago – it will stay with you, as I think “The Same Sky” will as well. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of “The Same Sky” in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
“The Same Sky” is an intense book told in the stark voices of two narrators, a girl from Honduras named Carla, and a woman from America named Alice.  The two stories combine to make a haunting novel that will, hopefully, forever remain in the mind of the reader. Alice, while she can be somewhat of annoying character, is a good representation of middle-class America.  Her family has its own struggles and deal with the inability to have children.  She and her husband run a small family business and live comfortably within their own bubble until the poverty that surrounds them becomes a part of their lives.  I liked this subplot of the book, as it was a good example of the fact that poverty exists, quite literally, in our own backyards. The story of Carla is eye-opening and disturbing.  Her life in her village is vividly described, illustrating some of the many reasons people of all ages choose to risk the journey to the United States.  I had no idea the trip is as difficult as it is, and I may have nightmares about it for quite some time. I highly recommend “The Same Sky”.  It brings a deep understanding to the struggles of others who share our world, and it sheds light on the reasons many illegal immigrant children are arriving at our borders alone.  It is my hope that we can all come together to help others in need with this book in the backs of our minds.  I know it will remain in mine. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
gaylelin More than 1 year ago
The Same Sky: A Novel by Amanda Eyre Ward 5 of 5 stars Thanks to Net Galley and Ballentine Books, I received a free ebook in return for an honest review. This book is told through the voices of two characters. Carla is an 11-year old girl from Honduras, and Alice is a 40-something-year old woman from Texas. Carla's mother is in America where she works and send money home to support Carla, her grandmother, her 5 year-old brother Junior, and twin toddler brothers. The problem comes when the grandmother dies and Carla tries to get to America with Junior. Alice and her husband are unable to have children because Alice had surgery upon finding she had a cancer gene. You know the two will be connected in some way. You're just waiting for when and how. Carla's trip is difficult to read, but with the current issue with undocumented children, and the question of whether or not they should be deported, make this a timely question, and may make you change your mind on the matter. To avoid spoilers, I'll say no more, except that I would give this book ten stars if I could.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put this book down.
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book, sad but so true to real life. I originally bought this book as a gift for one of my sisters, when she "highly recommend" I read it too she mailed it back to me, I read it in 3 days! Now I will mail it to my cousin. This book reminded me so much of Reyna Grande's "The Distance Between Us
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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