Review: The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

the-same-sky“From the acclaimed author of How to Be Lost and Close Your Eyes comes a beautiful and heartrending novel about motherhood, resilience, and faith in 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, risking 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 awaits to find the place where you belong.” – Publisher Summary

Let’s talk BBQ, y’all. You heard me right: BBQ. You know: ribs, brisket, pulled pork… Mmmmmm. If you are a fan, as am I, then rejoice: in The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward, BBQ is discussed, eaten, or described – in detail – in literally every other chapter. I read this novel in one day and the day after finishing it, The Boy and I headed straight to our fave BBQ joint (Phat Jack’s in Lincoln, NE)! Now, despite my drooling and gushing, the BBQ talk is merely a small part of things; let’s get down to the meat of this captivating novel:

Alice and Jake, owners of Conroe’s BBQ in Austin, TX, have been trying to have a baby for years. After finally completing an adoption, it falls through in a heartbreaking way. We’re flies on the wall as the young couple attempts to cope with this heartache and move on in the world.

Carla, age 12, lives in deplorable poverty in Honduras. Her mother left for the United States when Carla was only 5 years old, later paying for one of Carla’s brothers to join her – but leaving Carla and Junior, her younger brother, alone with their grandmother. Over the next seven years the family suffers many heartbreaks and setbacks. By the time Carla is twelve, she is fed up and decides the only way to save herself and her brother is to flee Honduras and travel to the U.S. on their own. Traveling with a young guide named Ernesto, the trio witnesses and endures horrifying acts on their way, only to be separated and for Carla to be caught by la migra. Will she ever make it to her mother in Austin, TX? Or will she be shipped back to Honduras, leaving Junior alone in Mexico?

The Same Sky is written as a dual narrative between Carla and Alice, who do not know of each other’s existence. Both narratives are heartbreaking and gripping, yet filled with hope. Despite the seeming unrelated nature of the two, Ward skillfully weaves them together as the tale moves toward the end, when the pair meets – in a way – under the same sky.

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward. Available at a bookseller near you on January 20, 2015.

4 stars

Source: Ballantine Books {via NetGalley}

 

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