Lit Love Book Review: Under A Painted Sky

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Under A Painted Sky via Penguin/Random House

Lit Love Book Review brought to you by my love of books. All opinions are my own, this post is not sponsored, and I don't get any compensation from any of these links.

The Basics:

Stacey Lee's YA Historical Fiction, Under a Painted Sky, follows the journey of Sammy and Andy, two runaway girls disguised as boys on the 1849 Oregon Trail. They fall into company with three cowboys who teach them how to navigate both the open plains and trusting relationships.
Why you wouldn't think to pick it up:

Confession time: I almost didn't check this one out because the blurb on the jacket didn't mention a romantic subplot. Though it did have a pretty great romance in it, the friendships in the book would have been worth it.

Why you should pick it up:

Under a Painted Sky is a great mix of adventure, romance, and thematic topics that are relevant to today's young adults. But the evolution of the friendships in the novel are the real shining jewels. 

The great:

As a big believer in love being rooted in friendship, I was really pleased at the way the relationships developed in Under a Painted Sky. The friendships develop slowly over the course of the journey as the characters learn to work together, serve each other, and save each other from the dangers that abound on the trail. The way Lee built the romance on kindness and sacrifice, as well as the way Sammy and West overcame their misunderstandings, made their relationship realistic and ultimately fulfilling.

The rest of the plot was well crafted, with a balance of external adventure and internal character development. It had the right dose of foreshadowing without being predictable. The prose was also well balanced. Her descriptions of the surroundings and the characters physical attributes were detailed enough to paint a vivid picture without being cumbersome or boring.

Another highlight of the book were the themes of equality threaded through the story. Racial and gender inequalities are treated in a way that is both historically accurate as well as modernly relevant. The theme of not judging others on their external attributes is taken deeper as the characters juggle the way they see themselves as flawed individuals.

The not so great:

There were only a couple of little historical things that seemed unrealistic that popped me out of the story and back into my analytical side. They were minor however, so I'm not going to tell you about them so you don't bug you too. Overall it seemed like a pretty realistic portrayal historically and in the characters' viewpoints and decisions.

There were also just a couple of scenes that were a tiny bit sappy. But again, the rest of the book was so realistic and the characters so authentic that as a reader I was willing to indulge in the sap. Also because I am totally a girl and love a little sappy sap every once in a while. Or more than just once in a while. Okay I like sap a bunch of the time. Truth.

The Verdict:

I'd recommend Under A Painted Sky to anyone, especially if it lies a little bit outside your book comfort zone. It is a beautiful portrayal of how people learn to love each other in all the different ways that we love; friends, lovers, and family that we are both born with and find along the way. A perfect summer read, especially in preparation for upcoming Americana month with Independance Day and Pioneer Day. Pick it up from your local library or independent book store today!

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