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“Skylar is my name, tragically.”
Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.
When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.
Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.
And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.
Some people will read this book and think, “What the heck is all the fuss about?”. Others will read this book and think, “This is glorious.” I’m not quite sure what impacts one differently from the other. I can’t explain the why’s of one being bored and another being mesmerized by this book. I can only say, for me, I was entranced.
“Gives Light”…from page 1, I knew I was going to be swept up into the author’s words. I knew that Skylar St. Clair was somehow going to leave an impact on me. I knew that I was going to want to keep reading and reading more and more. 315 pages of pure butter. I also knew I’d struggle with explaining how it was that I became so mesmerized.
The best way I can describe this book is that it’s like being transported to the middle of the Nettlebush Reserve in Arizona, living among this Native American tribe and becoming best friends with a 16-yo named Sklyar…and then living through his every thought, smell, touch, emotion, experience. I WAS THERE. I felt it. I knew it. I lived it. All as I read it.
Skylar is, quite possibly, the most amazing YA character I have read. He is smart and kind and generous and curious and tragic and sympathetic and brave and strong and loving and funny. He is extraordinary.
Add in Rafael, Annie, Grandma, Dad and a host of other minor characters…all making this story so RICH and FULL…I enjoyed every page. The relationships in this book are so touching and powerful in ways you wouldn’t even imagine or guess: A simple hug. Holding hands. Swimming in a lake. Carrying a loom. Delivering letters. Cooking. Dancing. Drawing. Playing the flute. Little things that each made the story so very lovely.
Despite the difficult storyline (the “About” section (blurb) above is exactly the tale that’s told), the writing is amazingly tender. It’s descriptive yet it’s concise and not overdone. It’s slow yet impactful. It’s beautiful even in the ugly parts.
The only thing that I could say that didn’t work for me is that the book didn’t have a natural ending. The storyline just…continues…I’m assuming…on in the 2nd book. I’m not a big fan of how this works in some series. I was hoping a bit for that “reward” at the end. But, I guess getting there was a reward in and of itself.
Highly recommended for a time and place when you don’t need fireworks, when you can appreciate something graceful yet takes its time, when you want a book that feels like a gentle *sigh*.