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A Sky for Us Alone

Review

A Sky for Us Alone

Kristin Russell’s A SKY FOR US ALONE begins with the protagonist, Harlowe, celebrating his 18th birthday. Harlowe has invited everyone he cares about from his brother, Nate, his best friend, Jacob, and Mama Draughn --- someone who acts more like a mother to him than his own. Nate gifts him with new equipment for his future woodworking business, something Harlowe and Nate have been dreaming about for years.

As the party slowly winds down, everyone begins to go their separate ways and Harlowe heads home. Later that night he hears a banging on the front porch and discovers his brother shot dead as the son of the man who owns the town and the law, Tommy, swiftly drives away. Overcome with grief, the family must learn to live without a son and a brother.

Harlowe especially must learn to swallow the rage inside of him since Tommy has gone unpunished by the law. The only thing keeping his mind off of recent events is the new girl who has moved to town, Tennessee. She’s shrouded in mystery and intrigue and seems to be the only positive thing in the town of Strickland.

"If you're looking for an easy read that also illustrates the world of a young man striving for truth, painful or debilitating as it may be, this is the book for you."

Harlowe finally gets Tennessee to agree to attend a party with him, claiming he can show her around the town. Unfortunately, while they’re there, he sees his best friend, Jacob, get beaten by Tommy, the man who killed his brother. The night ends in chaos, with Jacob swiftly disappearing. No one has a way to contact him or find him.

Meanwhile, everything else in Strickland is quickly going downhill. Harlowe’s mom has fallen back into addiction, which she had fought off years ago, only to succumb to it again since Nate’s death. His father seems to be dropping off the map as well, constantly disappearing to the mine, the only place of work in Strickland. The mine happens to be owned by the Praters, the family of Tommy and the kingpins of the town.

With almost everything in town going against him, he tries to find solace with Tennessee and her baby brother, Omie. But sadly the town refuses to leave him alone, with the mystery of the reason why his brother was killed steadily growing and the violent man haunting his waking thoughts. This all leads to Harlowe going on a desperate search for answers, from where Jacob ran off to, to the mysterious papers he found that belonged to Nate. While he is searching for the answers, he has yet to realize that they may be worse than never knowing what actually happened.

In SKY FOR US ALONE, readers follow Harlowe on his quest for the truth and his growing relationship with Tennessee. Kristin Russell helps us to view the life of an American boy in a world of corrupt lawmakers and dangerous enemies. His story, and the town’s story, are portrayed in a simple type of writing style that is accessible to most readers. The simple language does little to veil the adult themes portrayed in the book, from drug addiction to murder.

It all comes together to encompass the life of boy stuck in a town that refuses to change or follow the rules of basic right and wrong, legally or ethically. If you're looking for an easy read that also illustrates the world of a young man striving for truth, painful or debilitating as it may be, this is the book for you.

Reviewed by Anna B., Teen Board Member on January 16, 2019

A Sky for Us Alone
by Kristin Russell