cover image A Sky for Us Alone

A Sky for Us Alone

Kristin Russell. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-269702-8

In rural southern Appalachia, where many toil away in the mines and the opioid epidemic has devastated communities, the body of Harlowe Compton’s older brother, Nate, is dumped on the family’s front porch on Harlowe’s 18th birthday. Harlowe is certain the Praters, the most powerful family in Strickland County, are responsible, and he worries that Nate’s death is part of a larger drug-related conspiracy. Both his growing affection for Tennessee Moore, daughter of the abusive new foreman at the Praters’ mine, and his inquiry into his brother’s death spur Harlowe to make a choice between a future in Strickland County or striking out into the unknown. The romance between Harlowe and Tennessee is the story’s focus, but Harlowe’s relationships with his family, both biological and chosen, will linger most with readers. Debut author Russell faithfully renders the distinctive cultural norms and stark realities of Appalachian life, including the depth of poverty, while reminding readers of the region’s beauty and resilience. Along the way, she sends a subtle message that embracing one’s background, rather than fighting against it, can provide a road to the future. Ages 13–up. [em]Agent: Cindy Uh, Thompson Literary. (Jan.) [/em]