FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Above Us Only Sky


Hello, Loyal Readers! Life is going well, and I’m adjusting to my new life as a half-time writer. In the meantime, I’ve been reading again!

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The Book:

Above Us Only Sky by Michele Young-Stone seems to be the life story of a young girl born with a pair of wings. As an adult she meets one of her older relatives and learns that she’s part of a family of winged females she never knew. Beneath surface level, it seems to be one of those ‘women coming into their identities’ books.

Why I Picked It Up:

I saw it on the new release shelf at my local bookstore. What initially drew me in was the John Lennon lyric in the title. But the idea of a main character having had her wings removed sounded like a great source of inner conflict.

What I Like About It:

As I said, I like the premise. In reading, I enjoy the way that real history intermingles as part of the narrative. We start the book with the main character recalling the story of her birth, the removal of her wings, and the separation of her parents. We then get a glimpse of her winged great, great grandmother’s life as a pre-teen Lithuanian refugee. I like the way that the author sets the mood in these parts. The writing is quite nice, sentence structure is palatable, and so forth.

What Could Be Better, If Anything:

I’m maybe halfway through chapter two right now, and, to put it simply and bluntly, I don’t feel engaged. A good rule of thumb in modern literature is to have two big questions answered by the end of your first chapter (and indeed, the first five pages): 

#1 Why are we here? What is the main character’s goal? Their major desire, and the thing preventing them from getting it. This sets up the all-important CONFLICT.

#2 Why should you, the reader, care? What’s in it for you to keep reading? Why can’t you just let these characters pursue these goals without your help? This is trickier as we have to forge a bond between our characters and our readers, then create circumstances in which the readers can’t stop thinking about the characters, even while they’re not reading.

It seems that AUOS commits a bit of a writing sin in assuming we’re identifying and caring about their characters because of their circumstances.

If I had to guess what the major conflict will be in this book, I’d say that it’s the main character’s Grandpa is gonna die soon and she’s not ready for that as he’s her main link to her family.  But we learn that Grandpa’s dying before we even really get to see who he is as a character. This basically turns him into a prop-clock–Will our daring heroine forger her own bonds with her lineage and come to terms with mortality before The Old Man kicks the bucket? 

But as ever, you shouldn’t just take my word for it. Check out Above Us Only Sky for yourself, and come back here and talk about it! Like it/don’t like it? Does it get super good at chapter three?
Leave a comment and let us know!

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