ARC Review: Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor

Genres: Young Adult, Drama, Contemporary
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publication House: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Number of pages: 288
Source: eARC from Publisher (Netgalley)
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Sky and River have always lived on Island, the only world they’ve ever known. Until the day River spots a boat. Across Ocean, in a place called California, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she’s just met. Here the rules for survival are different. People rely on strange things like cars and cell phones. They keep secrets from one another. And without River, nothing makes sense. Sky yearns for her old life where she was strong and capable, not lost and confused. She must find River so they can return to Island, but the truth behind how they ended up there in the first place will come as the biggest shock of all.

This book broke my heart to a million pieces.

There are books that touch you, and there are books that shake your core, move you to tears, and leave you philosophizing about the meaning of life. Searching for Sky is one of the latter. To be honest, I did not expect much from this novel at the beginning, thinking it was another Contemporary with the same generic characters and generic plotline, but I was naive as by the time I turned the last page, I was a sobbing, ugly wreck with my face covered with tears and snot.

Obviously, I woke up with swollen eyes because I cried myself to sleep.


Searching for Sky was a refreshing read, an experience that I will likely not forget for years to come. 14 years ago, Sky, together with her mother and a man named Helmut and his son, River, found themselves trapped in an isolated island following an accident. They have learned to live and survive with with they had. When her mother and Helmut were found dead one morning, they even had to rely on themselves even more, making do with the little traps and fish they make. Then one day, they see a boat. River wants to go back, back to a place they never knew, a place Sky doesn’t want to go. However, she eventually agrees, and this jumpstarts a journey they were completely unprepared for.

Let me start this by saying this was a beautiful read for me. Even though the prose was initially quite simple, as Sky didn’t have much vocabulary due to their being isolated from civilization,it was deep and delivered insights and thoughts in a profound manner. I really got to know Sky as a person – all her fears and doubts and frustrations – and absorbed these emotions as if they were mine as well. I may have gotten a migraine from the narration at first, but later on this didn’t frustrate me as much as I was so involved in her plight. She was so confused and lost in this new world, that all she wanted to have was to have her home back, to be with River again, to be in the world she knew.

And I understood. I understood so much. And every time I think of the helplessness they both felt, brought on by the new environment and the revelations they discovered about their parents and how they came to the island, I can’t help but be broken a little more deep inside. My heart shattered for these two lost and confused souls. Around them people were worrying about this and that; were making a big deal of things like money, of a past they don’t remember, of individuals they never met, when they all wanted was to go back to their own paradise, back to their own island where they were strong and capable and not vulnerable to external forces they didn’t understand.

They had a hard time, and I had a hard time with them, too. It was so frustrating for me to read how people like Sky’s grandmother expected her to understand so many things all at once when they didn’t even try to understand her and River. I found myself getting even more and more involved with the characters, to the point when Sky cried, I cried with her; when River felt helpless and alone, I felt that loneliness, too; and when they expressed to each other how they wish they can go back and turn back time, I felt that same defeat.

I really don’t know how to describe any more of the experience I had when I plowed through this book. It was a sad read, but it was beautiful in its sadness and pain. It made me think about a lot of things, especially with regards to what is really important in our short life. Is it money? Is it the food we put in our plate and eat everyday? Is it the soft beds we sleep in? Or is the people, the memories? Is it the comfort we find in the arms of people we love? Is it the security we feel when we are close to them? It’s amazing what two people who society may deem as “uneducated” and “unknowing” due to their lack of street knowledge can teach to someone like me, to us. Perhaps ignorance to these material things is bliss after all?

I’d liken this book to something like Leah Raeder’s Unteachable, where the melancholy in the narrator words makes the story all the more bewitching . All in all, the author has woven a tale that’s largely sad and painful, but it’s these factors that make it fascinating and beautiful as well.

Recommendation: Read with a box of tissues ready. Don’t end up like me – swollen eyes and all!

Rating Report
Overall: 4.8
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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. says

    Did you tear up writing your review? I’ve teared up reading it. Dammit, why do I cry when others cry. I’ve got an ARC paperback of this one and didn’t know anything about it until it arrived in the mail, it sounded good, but your review has convinced me to read it asap. Crying snot and all.

    Did you really cry yourself to sleep? Aww Faye *lunges at Faye for big cyber hug*
    No wiping your snotty nose on my though :D

    Beautiful review :)
    Kelly recently posted…Stacking The Shelves and Weekly Wrap #22My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, is it that obvious? I actually teared up writing my review somehow. That happens to you when a book has moved you so much emotionally. I’m glad you got an ARC of it in the mail! I hope you read it soon because it is super moving and beautiful.

      HAHAHA! Don’t worry, Kelly ;) Your shoulder shall not suffer from the gross thickness of my snot :D

  2. says

    This sounds like a phenomenal read – and hits the spot in all the right places! At first, just from the title, it reminded me of Looking for Alaska (John Greene).

    The beginning of the plot sounds very similar to a favorite old historical romance I read. I still have the book, it was my mom’s, and is falling apart, but I will not get rid of it. I’ve probably read it about 10 times since I was a teen. The children of a shipwreck, who have lived on an island for many years, are rescued and returned to Victorian society. Their only living relative causes them to flee and join the gypsies, and they start a puppet show that tells a lucrative story about a man with one blue eye and one brown eye who plots to murder the queen and possess a long-buried treasure. Strange things start happening, and little do they know that the story they’re telling, what they’d grown up being told as a bedtime story, is closer to the truth than they imagine!

    I will definitely have to snag this read!
    Charlie recently posted…Must Love Otters is the NOOK DAILY FIND! Only $.99!My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      That sounds like a really nice premise, Charlie! I’ll have to check it out myself. The only books I’ve read from John Green were The Fault in our Stars and An Abundance of Katherines.

    • FayeFaye says

      Wheeee! I’m really glad you think so, Emily. It sounds intriguing, no? That sense of confusion and puzzlement, that loneliness you feel despite so many people going on about around you… sigh. Just thinking of it happening to myself gives me the absolute shivers.

  3. says

    Faye – I dismissed this as a “generic contemporary” as well. When I first heard I about it, I thought it sounded good, but not particularly engaging. But goodness! I’m DEFINITELY going to have to give it a read after reading this review! <3 This review is absolutely gorgeous Faye. I can see your emotion and your love for this book pouring onto the screen. It's absolutely wonderful! <3 Anyhow, definitely going to give this a try – I've already pre-requested it from my library! :D Thanks so much for sharing Faye! <3
    Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf recently posted…Torn AwayMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Right? I’m so glad I decided to give it a go. It deserves all the praise and time in the world because there are so many about life that we can learn from it. And yay for you feeling my emotions!

  4. says

    Wow. I think I would really enjoy this book based on your review!! It kind of reminds me of Room (though less, uh, I don’t know the word, depressing?), where the kid is thrust into a world that he never grew up in. These kinds of books make you think, huh.
    Valerie recently posted…Weekly Updates: Works in ProgressMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      They definitely make you think, Val. At least this one made me appreciate life more. I used to be so engrossed with materialistic things, but now I wonder if my life is floating away because of the same reason. We now depend so much on technology that we forget the people around us sometimes. I feel like going to the beach and look at the waves to meditate because of this.

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, I understand where you are coming from. If I read a sad books in a row, I don’t know if I’ll ever have faith in humanity ever again!

  5. says

    Of course I will now. Whatever makes you cry is right up my alley BUT I already have Torn Away. Will I be able to withstand two such books!?!?! You’re going to break me, Faye!
    Stuti recently posted…My Last KissMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Wheee, super happy to know that Stuti darling! :D Torn Away is a nice choice as well, but I gave that 4 stars and I gave this 5 ;) That speaks volumes hihihihi. READ THIS FIRST SO YOU WON’T BE AS BROKEN WHEN YOU READ THE NEXT!

    • FayeFaye says

      I’m glad to hear that, Jeann! Kelly got an ARC of this and Joy as well. Did you get one too? :3 :3

  6. Zaira F says

    Oh wow!!! This book is now on my top tbr! This book sounds like there’s so much depth, and I love it when that happens with contemporaries. I hope I love it as much as you do.

    • FayeFaye says

      Yay, Zaira! I’m so happy to hear you say that. I don’t really like contemporary books in general, but whenever I do read a Contemporary, I want them to be well-done and it seems I found that jackpot. I’m so happy to have shared this with you and I hope you read it soon!

    • FayeFaye says

      Far From You was a splendid read, you definitely didn’t make a mistake when you read that one. I hope this moves you, too, Lectus!

  7. says

    Oh wow! This is the first time I’m hearing of this book, but it sounds absolutely profound. I tend to struggle with overly sad books because then I’m left feeling sad for a very long time. But this sounds like it was a profound and beautifully written book so I can’t miss it out. I love it when a book manages to surprise me. I have to try this one out soon.
    Great review, Faye!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : Biggest Flirts by Jennifer EcholsMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, it really is. The narration is quite simple at first but Sky has this really gentle and innocent voice that’s able to touch on subjects in a sublime way. I understand what you mean with regards to sad books. I don’t want to be feeling overly depressed either but this one was beautiful in its sadness. The ending didn’t make me feel sad, just a bit bittersweet with a knowing feeling, if that makes sense!

  8. says

    Faye! I know you know that sad, heavy reads are NOT my favorite, but this one . . . this one intrigues me. I’ve always be fascinated by something about the idea of being raised away from civilization, in the wild (one of the reasons I love Jane Yellowrock). The perspectives have the capacity to be so stinking unique (if done well) b/c the author is allowed to work completely outside the box. Will definitely check this out. Top of the intense reads list! Fabulous review ;)
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review: A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. HamiltonMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      I knoooow! Sky and River really viewed the world differently compared to those who lived with civilization, and their perspectives made me realize that happiness is found in the smallest of things. Definitely made me reflect about my life A LOT. Maybe that’s why children, too, have interesting things to say when asked about their opinions? The childlike, innocent view can tell so many things :)

    • FayeFaye says

      Hahaha, its price should come down soon. I can wait for you to read this, Dre, definitely no rush. I was actually on my bed and when I cried I kept rolling on my pillow, wanting to deny what happened. My dog woke up and stared at me with judging eyes (I swear I didn’t imagine it!)

  9. says

    Wow…to be honest, the blurb didn’t really give me an impression that it’s going to this emotional of a read but from your review, I can just imagine how much this book has moved. I think MOVED is actually an understatement. I like what you said about these two characters, who is seen as uneducated because of their lack of knowledge with certain things, can teach us about other aspects in life that we get blinded of…because of materialism. Sometimes, sad reads are the most beautiful of all, it pushes us to ponder about life and its importance. I am not sure if I’m ready to read this now as it might drain me emotionally, but I definitely will in the future. Beautiful review, Faye!
    Amir recently posted…Audiobook Review: Archetype by M.D. WatersMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      I agree, Amir! The sad ones really do leave you pondering about the things that we oftentimes forget due to the fast-paced lifestyle our society has now. We all just need to stop and pause for a while and think what’s really significant to us as persons. The Golem and the Jinni had the same effect on me, as well as Torn Away! I hope you read these books soon.

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, I understand :D Some books have made others cry and it left me feeling nothing. I can be quite picky of the things I read. I hope you do make an exemption, Carmel. It’s stunningly gorgeous in its entirety.

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, I’m glad you feel terrible for that O_O (okay, I’m just kidding) but I really do hope you get to read this one the soonest as you can. It would be lovely to be able to discuss it with you, as the ending just gives me the feels like no other ><

  10. says

    Awwwww, I have to say. That everytime to see you @ gr, you’re usually very “expressive” about books. Its nice to see you cry over a book (And I mean that in a good way! :D) This does seem like the kind of book that would make you appreciate life. I haven’t heard of this. But I am definitely intrigued. Beautiful review Faye, don’t worry here!, *hand over Ice Cream* you’ll feel better later ;)
    Jules @ Jules Bookshelf recently posted…Update: My ongoing hiatus updateMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, Faye is the name, expressive is my game, whether it be about books that made me cry or made me rage :D Sometimes there are days I feel like my heart has turned to black and stone, but books like this remind me that life is beautiful even when it’s chaotic and tragic. THANKS FOR THE ICE CREAM! Magnolia ito ha? Haha.

    • FayeFaye says

      Hah, I’m glad my review is one of the first you read and that it made a lasting impression on you. I really hope you give this one a try, Janina. It would make me (AND SKY AND RIVER) very happy, indeed.

  11. says

    I know some people run to a book like this… I run the other way. I hate to cry, but then I love a book that makes me cry. Not crazy at all, huh? LOL Hm… I might have to put this one on my wishlist and then when I’m in a mood for a good but emotional book… I will have to read this one. If I run out of tissues, I’m blaming you, okay? ;)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Nope, not crazy ;) I’ve been there before. There are days that I don’t want depressing books, and this one really wasn’t depressing per se, but it was just so beautiful that it moves you to tears. It gives lessons that hit your heart hard like a pickup truck. Please, by all means, blame me ;) just read the book! :D

  12. says

    Holy hell. Hot damn. I was going to skip over this review, but the title made me open this one. After the description, I want this one in the WORST WAY!! I really really REALLY need a cry-time book! This one also sounds very original and different in a good way!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: She Is Not InvisibleMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, I’m glad the title reeled you in, Lyn. This book is honestly just very beautiful and thought-provoking. It made me cry buckets! BUCKETS!

    • FayeFaye says

      I have no idea what Return to Blue Lagoon is, but I’m definitely checking it out if it’s similar to Searching for Sky!

  13. says

    THIS REVIEW MAKES ME SO HAPPY. I got an ARC of this, like, unsolicited, and to be honest…er…. >_< I FEEL SO BAD. But I judged it from it's cover! And I'm like, "Names like 'River' and 'Sky'? Oh please." But it sounds soooo good. And I'm 100% trying it now and I can't WAIT. Eeeep. That is a super high rating too. ;) Gah. I love your reviews.
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, it’s no worries, Cait. I totally judge books by their covers all the time so no harm done, really ;) I can’t wait for you to read it too! I hope you love it and cry buckets as well :D

  14. says

    I don’t read so much contemporary but this sounds like a thought-provoking and life changing story so I’d like to try it out. I also like Sky and River’s background – their ignorance of the busy world. sounds like a great read.. I’m adding this to my tbr list :D
    czai recently posted…[REVIEW] The GiverMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      I’m glad to hear that, Czai. Definitely read it if you’re the type who likes reading about books that make you think about life haha.

  15. says

    I hadn’t even heard of this one and now I’m convinced I need it. But wow, it sounds like an emotional read and I cry at the drop of a hat so I’m terrified. Seems like it’s all worth it though, I love when books leave you like that and stay with you for a long time. That cover is gorgeous.
    Alise recently posted…What’s a Spoiler?My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Yay! I’m super glad to hear that Alise. Knowing you and the books you read and loved, I have a very good feeling you’ll like this one as well. And truly, you and I both! I’m such a softie and I cry quite easily lol

    • FayeFaye says

      Aw, Joy! I’m so glad that my review evoked such strong emotions from you. It really is a beautiful read and I hope you give it a chance. River and Sky need more love <3 <3 Weekend read it is, then!

  16. says

    I cried sooo much while reading this as well! That ending! And River! I was so mad at River at the start for taking them away and being the cause of it all, but then when we find out the truth, I just got really really really sad. Fantastic review! Absolutely agree with everything you’ve said. Yes! This is a definite read with a box (maybe two) of (extra absorbent) tissues.
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    • FayeFaye says

      Aw, Gina <3 <3 I'm so happy to encounter a kindred spirit. Wasn't this read just so gorgeous and heartbreaking at the same time? It's that kind of book I'd read only once because I don't want to go through the same pain again.

  17. Larissa says

    I actually haven’t heard/seen much about Searching For Sky yet, so your glowing review has definitely put it on my radar. Thank you Faye, I can only hope to enjoy it just as much as you have. Or even more [;

    I’m a little nervous though aha. I rarely cry from books, but when I do?? I go crazy [; Like uncontrollable gasping for breath type of thing. I’ll be sure to have my kleenex near me when I read this one haha. But I’m also excited to read this one because I do love a good emotionally poignant book. Searching For Sky certainly appears to fit that bill. I’m also quite intrigued by the premise, it just sounds like something I’d very much enjoy reading.

    Lovely review girl! (:

    • FayeFaye says

      I really do hope you love it even more than I did, Larissa! This is such a beautiful work of art. I understand what you mean – I mean I’m a softie overall but I usually just tear a little. This one made me sob and hiccup and everything >_<