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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Signed, Skye Harper: Carol Lynch Williams Keeps It Real

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Winston Fletcher should probably be angrier about the way her Momma abandoned her in pursuit of a glam Hollywood career.  Truth is, Winston's used to not having her mom around.  She prefers it that way (that's a half truth).  For the past eleven years, the 15-year-old's been getting along fine with just Nanny (her maternal grandmother) and their animals (1 rooster, 13 chickens, 1 dog).  Their lives in small town New Smyrna Beach, Florida, might not be glittery enough for Judith Lee Fletcher (a.k.a Skye Harper, a.k.a mom), but they're alright with Winston.  So, when Nanny receives an urgent letter from Miss Hollywood herself, begging her mother to come get her, both Nanny and Winston feel as ruffled as Denny the Rooster.  What should they do?

Nanny may be a penny-pinching, chain-smoking grump, but she's also a mother.  And a resourceful one at that.  After "borrowing" a slick new RV from an out-of-town friend, she hustles Winston, Denny and Thelma (Winston's dog) aboard the craft and takes off for Sin City.  Unbeknownst to the quartet, they've got a stowaway—cute Steve Simmons is not only the RV owner's son, but also the boy who makes Winston's heart pound like a bongo drum.  Winston's flustered enough over road-tripping in a stolen vehicle to retrieve the mother she hasn't seen in over a decade—now she has to spend the whole time trying to keep it together so she doesn't humiliate herself in front of the guy she likes?  Unbelievable.

Will Mission: Bring Skye Harper Home be a success?  How will Winston deal with having her larger-than-life mom around again?  And what will happen between her and Steve when their unlikely journey together ends?  With so many emotions ping-ponging around inside her, how will Winston cope with it all?  

The thing I love about YA author Carol Lynch Williams is that she does real so very, very well.  Signed, Skye Harper, her newest, is no exception.  Despite the novel's quirky humor, the story remains achingly authentic.  Steve, for example, is probably the most realistic teen boy I've ever encountered in YA fiction.  Yes, his hormonal behavior makes him less likable, but it also makes him more real.  More important are Winston's tender, heartbreaking emotions as she reacts to the upending of her ordered world as well as the highs and lows of falling in love for the first time.  Teens, especially, will relate to the roller coaster of feelings as she rides out her anxiety, confusion, sorrow, and fear.  After such a whirlwind trip with a girl like Winston, it will be impossible for anyone not to cheer as such a memorable heroine finally finds a place in her topsy-turvy world.  Heartwarming, but real, Signed, Skye Harper is just an all-around good read.  I loved it.  

(Readalikes:  Reminded me a little of Sway by Amber McRee Turner)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (no F-bombs), sexual innuendo, depictions of illegal drug use, and lots of talk about "bosoms"

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Signed, Skye Harper from the generous folks at Simon & Schuster because of my position as a judge for the Association for Mormon Letters (AML) Awards.  Thank you! 
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Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

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The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain



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