cover image Searching for Sky

Searching for Sky

Jillian Cantor. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-61963-351-3

Two teenagers, stranded on a deserted island for most of their lives, must acclimate to the modern world after they're finally rescued, in Cantor's (Margot) fascinating, existential coming-of-age story. Sixteen-year-old Sky%E2%80%94who's never known anyone but her companion River, her now-deceased mother, and the enigmatic Helmut%E2%80%94is suddenly forced to accept a grandmother who's a stranger and a world full of mysteries and contradictions, where words don't always mean what they seem. As Sky learns more about the Island from those around her, her positive memories are replaced by suspicion, anxiety, and uncertainty. All Sky wants is to reunite with River and return to the only place she considers home. Cantor shrewdly filters modern civilization through Sky's limited understanding%E2%80%94"So I get into Car Cave, and I let her tie a rope around me, which she promises will keep me safe"%E2%80%94but Sky ends up a fairly passive, reactionary protagonist as she struggles to understand complex human relationships against a backdrop that feels cold and foreign. The poetic portrayal of psychological isolation is hampered by superfluous subplots; nevertheless, Sky's story leaves a quietly haunting impression. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. (May)