For Sky, contemporary California is a brave new world.
As a young child, Sky was one of four survivors of a shipwreck. She has no memory of her life before she lived on Island, slept in Shelter and swam in Ocean. At 16, she now only has River, a slightly older boy, for company, and it’s River who first spies the boat that will change their lives. Rescued from Island and brought to California, Sky struggles to navigate a new life she never wanted—one where she is separated from River and must live with her grandmother, who insists Sky’s real name is “Megan.” In the tradition of Emma Donoghue’s Room (2010), the first-person, present-tense narration allows readers to see their familiar modern lives through Sky’s fresh eyes, though Cantor occasionally ruins the effect by overusing the device. The development of secondary characters suffers to further the plot: Sky’s grandmother is frustratingly inept at times, as is most of the “team of professionals” she assembles to help Sky acculturate. Nevertheless, it’s still satisfying to see Sky’s growth as the truth about her past is gradually revealed.
Despite some shortcomings, an appealing and sensitive reverse-survival story. (Fiction. 12-17)