cover image The Same Sky

The Same Sky

Amanda Eyre Ward. Ballantine, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-553-39050-6

Eyre's wrenching fifth novel is a study in contrasts between a middle-class woman in Texas and a young girl in Honduras. In Austin, Jake and Alice have finally decided to give up on having a baby after 10 years. As Alice struggles to come to terms with the fact that she will never be a mother, Alice throws herself into work at Jake's up-and-coming barbecue joint and tries to funnel her maternal impulses into mentoring a struggling teenager. On the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, 11-year-old Carla lives without a mother (she left for Texas years earlier) in almost unimaginable poverty, where children pick through trash at the dump and sniff glue to stave off hunger. When Carla's grandmother dies, she risks her life to join her mother in Texas. Over the course of Carla's harrowing journey, she walks for miles through deserts and jungles, hitches a ride on a freight train known as "The Beast," and endures pain and loss that makes her long for her simple life back home. The ways in which Alice and Carla's lives intersect are too subtle until the final chapters, which, while poignant and bittersweet, feel rushed. Regardless, Carla's journey is powerfully rendered and will stick with readers long after they close the book. (Jan.)