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. – Goodreads
This book first came on my radar when I heard Jillian talk last year at my local bookstore. Jillian is a local author, well as local as one can be from Phoenix to Tucson, and along with becoming friends at that event, I heard her talk about her upcoming YA novel: Searching For Sky. To say I was hooked was an understatement. Then, my friend Erica, told me about it. Told me it was reverse dystopian, which made no true sense to me, but I was still intrigued. When I started the book, I got it. I got the reverse dystopian.
Sky has lived on Island her whole life. There is the Ocean and Toilet Tree and her friend and fellow member of Island, River. They are living a happy life on Island, partly because it is all Sky knows. One day of course that all changes, they are found and rescued. The important thing is though, that Sky doesn’t want to be rescued, she enjoys her life for what it is. She quickly discovers that being rescued really is the worst. She is taken to a place called California and finds out that she has a grandmother, River isn’t what he seems, and her life on the island really isn’t what it seems.
Sky struggles, a lot, throughout the whole book. While biologically she is a teenager, mentally she is not even close. Her grandmother brings in people to assist her, from psychologists, teachers, a teenage boy to be a friend, and it takes awhile but slowly Sky starts to adapt. Very slowly, Cantor never forces Sky into situations which wouldn’t fit the character. There are painful moments where you want to hug Sky, because while toilets, pencils and cars are completely normal to us, Sky is out of her element and it’s painful for her. She wants to go home. To her real home. The island.
Sky isn’t allowed to talk to River and Sky slowly finds out things about her mother and Helmut, the other two that were on the island (they died before the novel began) that hurt Sky. Sky is convinced if River and her could just go back to the Island everything will be okay. We, as the reader, know that life is not that easy. No matter how easy Sky believes it is.
Cantor made me a believer of not only Sky, and Southern California, but also “Reverse Dystopian.” I am here for it. All of it.