Love Like Sky
By Leslie C. Youngblood
“Love ain’t like that.”
“How is it then?” Peaches asked, turning on her stomach to face me.
“It’s like sky. If you keep driving and driving, gas will run out, right?”
“That’s why we gotta go to the gas station.”
“Yep. But have you ever seen the sky run out? No matter how far we go?”
“No, when we look up, there it is.”
“Well that’s the kind of love Daddy and Mama got for us, Peaches–love like sky.”
“It never ends?”
G-baby and her younger sister, Peaches, are still getting used to their “blended-up” family. They live with Mama and Frank out in the suburbs, and they haven’t seen their real daddy much since he married Millicent. G-baby misses her best friend back in Atlanta, and is crushed that her glamorous new stepsister, Tangie, wants nothing to do with her.
G-baby is so preoccupied with earning Tangie’s approval that she isn’t there for her own little sister when she needs her most. Peaches gets sick-really sick. Suddenly, Mama and Daddy are arguing like they did before the divorce, and even the doctors at the hospital don’t know how to help Peaches get better.
It’s up to G-baby to put things right. She knows Peaches can be strong again if she can only see that their family’s love for her really is like sky. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
I love the title of this book and the cover art for Love Like Sky is beautiful. The tag line reads: Families change. Love Grows.
When the description tells me upfront a young child will be sick, I can pretty much guess it will be a tear jerker. And it was.
I love the deep POV revealing the complicated feelings G-baby is wading through. The need to be accepted and the overwhelming responsibility for a younger sister are both aptly captured. She is also teetering on the world of adults, and recognizes they speak in a subtext she doesn’t always understand – she doesn’t want to be a baby or a little little girl, anymore but still needs the assurance from the adults in her life. Her decision-making ability is spot on. I remember being in high school and having an unrealistic plan as a back-up if my mother died. G-baby’s plan to offer herself for a transfusion is exactly the kind of thinking I would expect from a child. A clean simple answer to make everything better immediately.
Another key relationship is with her best friend. They are sassy and rude to each other at times, but when push comes to shove they have each others’ backs. I can’t say if that is realistic for some friendships or not. It hasn’t been for mine. But their secrets and wanting to be important to each other is very realistic.
I loved the passive aggressive thought Georgie (G-baby) has whenever she calls Millicent – Millipede. That sounds exactly like the kind of thing a kid would do. It also made her interactions with her step-mother more realistic. Why should she be happy that a new woman has monopolized her father’s time? From Georgie’s point of view, Millicent is the enemy and forcing her to be kind, though admirable and the reaction of adults in a blended family, isn’t really going to help her come to love a step-mother. That is going to take a lot of time and building trust. I also liked how Georgie wanted to hug her step-father but was hesitant, not quite knowing how the puzzle pieces fit together in her life. Tangie’s reaction also made complete sense to me as she rejected her new younger step-sisters. That poor girl had a lot on her plate.
The thing that surprised me in the book was Marshall – the young, angry, protester boyfriend of Tangie. From the book description, I had no idea that this element would be present. And that may be because of where I live. When I’ve traveled through Georgia, driving through small towns and Atlanta, I had a positive experience, but I am not African American and have no way of knowing how that may have changed my impression. I’ve never been involved in a protest and even though there are some protests that occur in our state capital it’s not something I instantly associate with being in college, so it was a new perspective. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be in the book, because it makes sense, I’m only saying I was surprised and a saddened that injustice is still such a problem in our society.
One of the poignant moments about race occurs when G-baby recounted her daddy being pulled over by the police. She noted how he told them to be good in the backseat, kept both hands visible on the steering wheel the whole time even though he normally drove with one. It was so subtle that it showed me how the adult is thinking and what the child is not understanding. I loved how Georgie is innocent and not jaded my society.
In the end, love was enough to work through the bumps in their new blended family. It may not be an entirely realistic ending but an appropriate one for middle grade. I think this story is great for kids about 10-12 years old.
I gave this story 4 stars. I loved it.
I will be surprised if this story doesn’t win an award.
4 out of 5 stars
If you liked Love Like Sky try Maniac McGee by Jerry Spinelli, Schooled by Gordon Korman, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, and Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos.