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Love Like Sky

Book review by
Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
Love Like Sky Book Poster Image
Moving story of girl adjusting to being in blended family.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

References to African American culture, art, and history are peppered throughout the story, lending a sense of place and time. Youth protest police brutality. Main character Georgie learns a lot about her family and culture from her elders.

Positive Messages

Family takes all shapes and sizes. Focus on the people you love. Even if friends are being unkind, love them anyway. Respect your elders. Respect your culture. Respect yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gerogie comes from a tight-knit community where family, neighbors, and elders are loved and respected. Her parents are accomplished and patient and set boundaries for the kids. When an adult makes a mistake, he or she apologizes and takes responsibility. Georgie meets an African American female doctor who encourages her curiosity and her intelligence.

Violence

Implications that kids get hit at home. ("I knew if I said it, Mama would slap the taste right out of my mouth.") Self harm: Georgie hits herself, bangs her head against the wall ("I wanted to chop my tongue off"). Teens talk about police brutality and a boy's death. Girls are mean to each other and think violent thoughts about each other. ("I would have given everything in my piggy bank to hear what she said ... if it was one mean thing ... I was going to snatch her lips off.")

Sex

Detailed talk about kissing -- how it feels, when it should happen. Georgie is kissed on the cheek. Tangie kisses her college-age boyfriend.

Language

Substitutes for bad words: "No shirt, Sherlock." "Oh my Josh."

Consumerism

Lots of brand mentions: Uggs, Auntie Anne Pretzels, Bath and Body Works, Juicy Couture, Golden Corral, Big Lots, M & M's, Allstate, Coke, Sprite, Macy's, Skechers, Mary Kay, The Limited, Walmart, XBox, Beats headphones, Bluetooth, Frosted Flakes, Pac Man, Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Disney World, Foot Locker, Red Door perfume, Windsong perfume, Steak-Umm, Garden Crust, Pizza Hut, iPod, Goodwill, Barbie, Ritz Crackers, Toys "R" Us, Popeyes, Escalade, Chrysler 300, Mc Donald's, Essence and O magazines, Clark, Spelman, Howard, FAMU, and more. Many entertainers mentioned: Alicia Keys, Foxy Brown, Pam Grier, Tyler Perry,  Janet Jackson, The Jackson 5, Michael Jackson, George Clinton, Tracee Ellis Ross, Diana Ross, Angela Davis, Jay Z, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Funkadelic, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Kardashians, Chance the Rapper, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Kevin's mom is known as the "drunk mom." He reports that she's in and out of the hospital because she drinks and smokes despite her diabetes. His mom sends him to neighbors to fetch cigarettes for her.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Love Like Sky is a touching story about an 11-year-old girl named Georgie who's adjusting to going between her parents' houses. It's also about illness, navigating mean friends, and change. There are models of sisters who love and support each other through tough times, and there are also friends who bully, threaten, and belittle one another. Parents fight with their exes in front of children, and the kids pick up on tensions between family members. Georgie engages in self-harm and self-blame to the extent that her stepsister has to stop her from hitting her head on the wall. Friends bicker and fight. A group of girls peer-pressures a girl into stealing from a store. Constant brand-name mentions distract somewhat from the story.

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What's the story?

In LOVE LIKE SKY, 11-year-old Georgie Matthews is doing everything she can to help her 6-year-old sister, Peaches, get used to living in a new house with a new stepdad and stepsister. Georgie does goofy dances, plays beauty shop with her, and lets her sleep in her room. But Georgie is even more interested in gaining acceptance from her new stepsister, Tangie. As an 11-year-old, Georgie wants to know things that a teen big sister would know about friends, guys, and looking and acting cool. But Tangie is still grieving the loss of her little sister and resents the intrusion of two stepsisters she doesn't want in her house. When an emergency occurs, Georgie blames herself, and she defies the rules when she tries to make it better. This story of loss, healing, and renewal explores the meaning of family -- along with mean friends, crushes, and making things right. 

Is it any good?

This moving story tackles divorce, illness, and loss head-on, and kids will appreciate the story's realness and the characters' slightly risky adventures. The loss and change that the girls undergo is heartrending, and the friend drama is very intense. That said, after all of the name calling, the reconciliations feel a little chaotic and flimsy, considering the things that have been said. And when friends threaten to abandon one another and flip their switch at any imagined slight, it feels less like friendship and more like danger.

Still, the sense of family bonding and community connectedness is upbeat and hopeful, even though adults and kids alike fight with as much passion as they love. Fewer brand mentions and more delving into the sensory world would have helped the story truly take flight.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about blended families in Love Like Sky. What shows or movies depict healthy blended families? Which illustrate difficulties among stepparents and stepkids? How do you think some of the challenges can be overcome?

  • How important are brands to you and your friends? Georgie's friend Nikki kept a pair of Nikes in her locker for Georgie so she wouldn't be teased mercilessly about her "cheap shoes." Does that matter in your school and with your friends?

  • Music is really important to Georgie and her family. How can music bring back memories or make memories? Do you have certain songs or entertainers that you listen to as a family?

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love family tales and stories involving divorce

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