The Same Sky, by Amanda Eyre Ward (2015)

Multicultural Fiction
The Same SkyTwo lives, two paths, two females with very different lives and goals, but sharing the same hardened resolve to bring their dreams to reality. It opens with Carla’s story of a desperate life of survival as a child in Honduras. Her mother is in America, and little Carla fantasizes of joining her mother, who works as a waitress and sends money home as often as she can. Life in Honduras is about avoiding the robbers, keeping her little brothers safe, and dreaming of a better future. To realize her dream, Carla will have to ride the Beast to America, a dangerous journey few survive, and none without scars. Alice and Jake Conroe live in Austin,TX, where they own and run a highly successful barbeque restaurant. The work is hard – Jake starts cooking the meat before midnight, and the restaurant opens to a line-up from mid-morning until the brisket and pork run out, usually some time after lunch. The food is so good Conroe’s BBQ has caught the attention of Bon Appetit magazine. But the material success and pending fame doesn’t compare to their deep desire for a child. When another adoption falls through, they agree to give up on the dream. Alice tries desperately to come to terms with the realization she will never be a mother. Ward follows a familiar pattern in alternating chapters between her protagonists. Despite Alice’s predilection for vintage boots, Ward avoids setting up the reader to experience the sharp contrasts of the two narratives as a criticism of western values. Instead, we grow to understand what drives illegal immigrants to seek a better life. It’s not an easy read. Carla’s story is gut-wrenching at times; there’s a rape scene that is so sparsely described it forces your imagination to fill in horrifying the blanks. Ward presents Alice’s more subtly, and left me wanting more about the strength that keeps Alice going, and perhaps keeps relationships at bay. A hint of trouble brewing with a young reporter suggests Alice copes by ignoring, a trait that is sure to lead to disaster, but this storyline goes nowhere. I kept waiting for the two storylines to intersect, and when they finally did it was rushed and strained. Carla’s story was strong enough on its own, and Alice’s story would have benefited from deeper exploration. Not a miss, but not the home run it should have been. My thanks to NetGalley for the advance reading copy.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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