The Same Sky, written by Amanda Eyre Ward, seemed like a rather intriguing tale at first.
It’s the story of two very different women. One, Alice Conroe, is a grown woman, with a good marriage, a thriving business, a beautiful home, and the secure knowledge that she’s a survivor. The only thing missing from her life is the one thing that she seems destined to never have: a baby.
The other is Carla, a woman who is actually just a child when the story begins. She lives in Honduras with her grandmother and younger twin brothers after her mother leaves them behind to head to America to make a better life. Initially, Carla deals with life in the tiny town she was born in and believes she’s destined to die in, but after her mother sends for one of the twins and the remaining twin gets hooked on drugs, Carla’s feelings change. No longer willing to accept that this is her life, when her grandmother dies, Carla decides it’s time for her and her brother to get out, before it’s too late.
I found Carla’s story to be much more compelling and interesting than Alice’s. Carla’s journey from a hovel in Honduras to Texas, the things that she went through, the things she sacrificed (some knowingly, others by pure force), and her reasons for doing so were all intriguing and made for an amazing story.
Alice, on the other hand, was annoying and very shallow. I understand that the purpose of the book was to contrast the two very different lives these women were leading, and how Fate ultimately brought them together, but where Carla’s story was compelling and believable, Alice’s was flat for me. She seemed like a rather weak, easily confused and not very intelligent woman. I prefer stronger female characters, and she just didn’t seem like one. Her relationship with her husband, Jake, was inconsistent – at points, they seemed utterly happy despite the fact that she’s infertile and all their adoption and surrogacy attempts have failed, and then at others, their marriage seems to be on the very brink of completely falling apart. There are hints of that failure, hints of other bad things for their marriage, that never come through but are never completely explained either.
She has an odd relationship with the local high school principal, as well, and through her, a very confusing relationship with a troubled girl named Evian. Evian seems to take complete advantage of Alice and Alice comes across as too stupid to realize she’s being used. Jake spends most of the book annoyed at Alice’s relationship with Evian, yet by the end, he’s helping Evian when Alice is out of town, and seems to be completely over his issues. It just makes no sense.
Then there’s Alice’s relationship with her sister and brother-in-law. There’s a lot of unexplained tension and rudeness, people snapping at each other and speaking to each other in ways that I, at least, wouldn’t speak to someone unless I really had major issues with them. Yet there’s never anything said or shown that would explain this. It irritated me because with no real reason given, it makes all the characters involved look petty and rude.
Carla’s half of the story is not free from this treatment, either. There are times when in one paragraph, she’s thinking of how concerned she is for her brother, how weak he is and how he can’t handle anything – immediately followed by her snapping at him and being horribly mean to him. While in Alice’s part of the story, this is simply annoying, it’s different in Carla’s. While I did find it slightly annoying, it’s also a bit more understandable. Carla is still a child, and she’s scared. She’s in the middle of the very difficult journey to America, she’s feeling the weight of the responsibility for herself and her brother, she has no mother or other family to help guide her. She’s had no one to help her for a long time, and the stress has gotten to her.
I did enjoy the book overall, mostly because of Carla’s story. I found it interesting to read about her life in Honduras, and it did make it easier to understand why some people would risk the terrifying journey to come to America – why they are willing to illegally cross a border into a country where it seems most citizens don’t want them. It also gave me some insight into just what those immigrants go through to get here, and why some of them feel they have no other choice.
It’s a great read, though not for a light read or to escape from life on a Saturday afternoon. This one will make you think and make you feel. Even if you don’t like Alice’s side of the story (which I really didn’t), Carla’s alone will make it worth the time you spend on this book. It will open your eyes and your mind to a situation that you likely have never experienced and give you new insight into one of those times where breaking the law seems worth it, because the alternative is just unthinkable.
If you’d like to read The Same Sky, it will be released on January 20, 2015, and you can get it here:
*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.