Love Like Sky (it’s never ending)

by | Nov 22, 2023

Love Like Sky  – Best Title Ever!

Sometimes I am like a magpie, grabbing shiny books suggestions from so many places that I can’t keep track of where the recommendation came from. Which is to say, I don’t remember where I first heard about “Love Like Sky,” by #OwnVoices author Leslie C. Youngblood (Little, Brown Books), but I was so intrigued by the title — and the starred Kirkus review — that I bought the book. 

“Love Like Sky” is set in the Atlanta suburbs. Eleven-year-old Georgie’s family has recently been “blended up.” Georgie’s parents have divorced and have both remarried. She is struggling with having to adjust to these life-altering changes, which any young reader can relate to. 

Georgie and her little sister, Peaches, live primarily with their mom, their stepdad, Frank, and his daughter, Tansie. Their new home is far enough from their old Atlanta neighborhood that Georgie can’t hang out with her friends and she resents it. While Georgie loves being a big sister, the story opens with her wanting Tansie to be her big sister. Unfortunately, Tansie does not want to have anything to do with her two stepsisters, perhaps in part because her little sister, Morgan, was killed five years before in a car crash. Also, Tansie is doing her own adjusting to the new normal.

Georgie also has to adjust to her father’s new situation. Early in the story, Georgie’s and Peaches’s father, George, invites them to his house for a sleepover. Georgie is determined to dislike her father’s new wife, Millicent, who she refers to as Millipede.  It turns out George and Millicent have bought Georgie’s and Peaches’s old house. Despite this very generous gesture, Georgie is not inclined to make things easy for “Millipede.” 

The story really begins when Georgie sneaks off from her dad’s house to visit Nikki while Peaches suddenly becomes deathly ill and is rushed to the hospital. 

Georgie feels terrible guilt for sneaking off, as well as grief and worry. Will Peaches recover? Will she die? Are the adults telling Georgie the absolute truth about the situation? In the midst of this crisis, Georgie stays with her friend Nikki so her parents can be at the hospital around the clock. Her friends support her and Georgie also helps her friends with a bully. The reader will enjoy the engaging dynamics between Georgie and her friends, especially the bickering Georgie and Nikki get into!

Young readers will be able to relate to every issue in this story. They’ll love Georgie’s spunkiness and her loyalty and her deep affection for her little sister. They’ll feel her conflicted emotions over her “blended-up family” and the changes that are required of her. They’ll yearn along with her for the attention of Tansie and for a full recovery for Peaches. They’ll root for her when she helps Nikki confront a bully.

And then there is the universal worry that, with all this change, a parent might no longer have time for you. This is where the book’s title comes from. Georgie explains to Peaches that their father will still love them even though he’s remarried.

“It’s like sky. If you keep driving and driving, gas will run out, right? … But have you ever seen the sky run out? No matter how far we go?”

“No” says Peaches. “When we look up, there it is.”

“Well, that’s the kind of love Daddy and Mama have for us, Peaches — love like sky.”

I wish I had written that!

I have often observed a two-wave pattern in books and movies regarding the representation of any group that is not part of the white, heterosexual, cis-gendered majority. It is this: in the first wave, books (and movies) have a plot that centers on the way in which the character(s) are not “mainstream”: so, for example, early depictions of gay or gender non-conforming people  center on a plot about their struggles with their identity and their coming out. After those works reach a critical mass (I don’t know what that critical mass is!), we see a second wave of stories that also have non-mainstream main characters, but in which the plot has nothing to do with their particular identity characteristics. While the plot revolves around those characters, it’s their humanity that drives the story: forgotten homework, fights with friends, crushes, or other adventures, not their identity, which is simply there, like their hair color or height. 

 “Love Like Sky” fits into this second wave; the story is not about the characters’ Blackness, but they are Black and their Blackness is evident in the way the characters act and interact. I think any young reader will enjoy watching Georgie’s struggles and be satisfied at the story’s end, I know I was. Books like this both allow Black readers to see themselves reflected in children’s literature and help white readers see Black people in a humanizing light. That’s a win win!

Alexandra the Great book cover

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