Title: Saving Sky
Author: Diane Stanley
ISBN: 9780061239052
Pages: 199 pages
Publisher/Date: Harper, c2010.

“I should have done something,” Sky said.
“I know. We all want to be braver and better than we are. That’s how we keep growing.”
“You, and Dad, and Mouse–you all tried to help. But not me! Oh no, I was staying out of trouble. I just stood there, watching the cart like a stupid–”
All right, then,” Ana said. “What would you like to do?”
“As penance. If you truly believe you’ve done something wrong, and you won’t listen to me, and you’re determined to let this eat you up from the inside, then you need to do penance and get rid of the guilt.” (52-53)

Thirteen-year-old Sky Brightman has not lived a normal life compared to her classmates. Sharing the dozens of acres with her younger sister Mouse, Sky doesn’t receive news from the radio or the television, but instead from her aunt’s phone calls when something drastic happens. This is how they learn about the food and gas shortages and terriorist attacks. After a blantant display of racism, Sky feels useless until she agrees to look out for classmate Kareem, who gets teased and bullied because of his enthnicity. But Sky and her family get more then they bargained for when the government becomes involved.

I wish I had blogged this book on September 11th, because it fit with the controversial and politicall/emotionally/religiously charged anniversary. It’s sad that books like these are being written and accurately reflect some of the feelings the public is having. Sky’s reaction to the injustice she sees in the shopping mall is authentic. Both the fearful dismay during and the regretful shame after are experiences that kids and adults share with Sky. Children are always wondering what they could do, and it’s nice that Sky’s mother puts it into terms that they can understand and advice they can follow:

[…] You didn’t have the power to stop it. You aren’t strong enough to take on a big man like that. You would only have made things worse, and you might have gotten hurt. Mouse might have gotten hurt. But there are plenty of other injustices in the world. Choose one you can manage. Maybe there’s someone at your school who gets picked on because he’s different. You could stand up for him.
[…] Stick to him like glue. Make sure he’s never alone. Get your friends to include him at lunchtime. Stand by him in the carpool line. And don’t be afraid to call a teacher if things get out of hand. (53-54)

While I like Sky’s parents’ philosophy, I think the story was slightly idealistic in their isolation from the rest of the world. No newspaper, no Internet, no television. And the fact that Sky had friends amongst her opinionated classmates that accepted her was nothing short of remarkable. But as I said, a good story that is relevant to today, and will certainly get kids thinking about what small changes they can do in their lives.