Review: Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor

Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor

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.

I received Searching for Sky from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was interested in Searching for Sky for two reasons: I love “fish out of water” stories and it reminded me of Island of the Blue Dolphins, one of my favorite books ever.

There wasn’t actually a lot of similarity between Island of the Blue Dolphins and Searching for Sky, other than the “left alone on an island” premise. Searching for Sky focused more on what happened to Sky after leaving Island and how she adapted to her reluctant new life.

Sky didn’t adapt well at all, probably because she never wanted to leave Island in the first place. She was happy there, despite only having River for a companion since their parents’ deaths months earlier. Food was growing scarce, but Island was familiar and safe. Sky didn’t even remember the short time of her life before she lived on Island. When the boat arrived on Island to take them to California, it was River who wanted to leave, and because Sky trusted River she went along with the plan.

Sky’s world very quickly went from very small (Island, Bathroom Tree, Grassy Hill, Falls) to very large. Nothing in California was familiar: not the people, not their houses and cars and stores, not even the ocean. Sky tried to find solace in spending time on the beach a few blocks from her new home, but she was sad to discover that the ocean, even though it was the same Pacific she had grown up knowing, just wasn’t the same in California. She called it Cold Ocean.

Sky had to learn everything in her new world, even things that seem natural to me — like using a toilet correctly. At least she was fortunate in one respect. Although there were a lot of new words and ideas to learn, she did speak English, thanks to her mother and River’s father.

Sky met her grandmother and went to live with her almost immediately, after a short stay in a military hospital. Sky’s grandmother was not a very sympathetic character. I felt like more could have been put into her character to make her more likeable. I can only imagine the grief she must have gone through at losing her daughter (Sky’s mother) fifteen years earlier, and her joy at finding Sky alive. I can only imagine because none of that was shown or even mentioned. She didn’t really understand Sky, or even seem to be trying very hard. She did hire a tutor and a therapist for Sky, but she seemed to expect Sky to just conform to California living instantly. I don’t think she even hired the right types of help for Sky. Surely someone like an occupational therapist would be more helpful, at least at first, than a tutor. While it might not be the typical work of an occupational therapist, it would be a step in the right direction for Sky. Couldn’t learning to read wait until Sky learned how to use a toilet?

There’s one thing that Sky’s grandmother did that I found unforgivable, especially considering the way things turned out in the end. I can’t even pretend to understand why she did it, because it just doesn’t make sense to me, even after she gave Sky an explanation.

Searching for Sky was more sad than I expected, and it didn’t exactly work for me, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it.

3 stars



  1. Sounds interesting, sad you didn’t love the book. I wish every book could blow our socks off, but to each his own!

    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings
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