cover image Flowers in the Sky

Flowers in the Sky

Lynn Joseph. HarperTeen, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-029794-7

Joseph’s quietly compelling novel captures both the colorful sun-filled atmosphere of 15-year-old Nina’s beloved seaside town, Samana, in the Dominican Republic, and the grit of New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Unlike most Dominicans, Nina has no desire to make “a better life” in New York; she loves Samana and is miserable when her mother sends her to live with her 28-year-old brother, Darrio, in Manhattan. Appalled by the noisy streets teeming with drug dealers and vulgarly dressed Dominicanos, she misses tending her garden and the flowers that were an integral part of her being: “Now I knew how it felt to be rudely uprooted and replanted in the wrong soil.” Joseph (The Color of My Words) keeps the suspense high as Nina tries to adjust to her new circumstances. Is the terse, green-eyed barber who sets her heart pounding worthy of her love, or a criminal? What to do about her levelheaded, ambitious schoolmate Carlos, whose feelings for her are more than platonic? And what kind of trouble is Darrio in? A moving, thoughtful coming-of-age story set against a realistic multicultural backdrop. Ages 13–up. (Mar.)