The Same Sky
by Amanda Eyre Ward

Random House, Ballantine Books, 2015. ISBN 978-0-553-39050-6.
Reviewed by Ann McCauley
Posted on 04/18/2015

Fiction: Historical

"My mother left when I was five years old." When I read that first sentence of The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward, I was captivated. Carla's powerful story covers her life for the next seven tumultuous years. Alternating chapters unfold parallel stories revealing the child, Carla, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras; and Alice, the Texas-transplant from Brooklyn, N.Y., and her Texan husband, Jake. Their implausible paths eventually merge in a most poignant way.

At first life is better when Carla's mother leaves Honduras and goes to Texas. She sends money home regularly with gifts for Carla and her one-year-old twin brothers. Two years later, Carla's mother is able to send enough money to smuggle only one of the twin boys to Texas. Junior, the twin left behind, becomes emotionally ungrounded. Then their grandmother becomes sick and dies, their school closes, and the money from their mother becomes irregular. The tension is palpable as Carla strives for survival in a frightening world of poverty, gang violence, and chaos. She finds that scavenging in the city dump is not enough to feed them even one meal a day, and hunger is a constant. Even though Carla tries to protect him, Junior is six years old when he becomes addicted to sniffing glue, the scourge of the slums. One terrifying night, a gang member looking for a place to hide breaks into their shack. However, he proves to be kind, and assists them in their desperate struggle to go north to find their mother.

Meanwhile, Alice's story is unfolding in Texas. Alice and Jake successfully work together as a team at their restaurant, Jake's Barbecue. It is famous for miles around, and by nine a.m. every morning people are lining up for lunch. Alice and Jake fix up their cottage and create a cozy home—with an empty nursery. The pacing is perfect as Alice and Jake, both 40 years old, desperately try to adopt a baby. Each time they almost find a baby, the birthmother changes her mind. They give up hope, only to have another baby entice them to try again. And then their lives intersect with Carla's in a surprising and hopeful way.

Amanda Eyre Ward's plot and characterizations are believable, as well as her obvious in-depth research. The connecting threads of these parallel stories are masterfully woven together as the author skillfully executes the conclusion. The Same Sky shakes the foundation of my concepts of right and wrong pertaining to illegal immigration to the United States. Meeting Carla seriously challenges my legalistic logic. Her world of danger and hunger are frightening; it is truly a world of terror.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Amanda Eyre Ward is the critically acclaimed author of five novels, including the bestseller, How to Be Lost. She has spent the last year visiting shelters in Texas and California, meeting with immigrant children and hearing their stories, this novel is inspired by them. Amanda lives in Austin, Texas, with her family. Visit her website.

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