The Same Sky, by Amanda Eyre Ward, is the first of three books chosen by my local United Methodist Women’s circle to read this summer for our monthly coffee meetings. This book and its characters will stay with me for a very long time.
It is simultaneously the story of a couple (Alice and Jake) who desperately want a baby, but cannot have one, and a pre-teen girl (Carla) who is raped and robbed of her little bit of food and money on the long journey from Honduras to the United States. Yes, Carla enters illegally.
When Carla was five years old, her 19-year-old mother left her and her little brother with their grandmother. After the death of their grandmother, Carla is left alone to raise her 6-year-old brother. Theirs is a poverty-stricken life of scavenging for food at the local dump, only to have it stolen by gang members. This is how she becomes one of millions of unaccompanied children fleeing violence and poverty in third-world countries.
Carla points out something many Americans forget: “having enough enables you to forget you are not in charge of your life”. Having been at the point of starvation most of her life, Carla decided she “looked forward to becoming as plump as an American”. Little did she know how unhealthy the diet of most Americans actually is.
Alice and Jake have their own problems, but none so desperate as those of Carla and millions like her. Owners of a popular barbeque restaurant in Austin, Texas, they are featured in Bon Appetit. Business is doing well, and they are happily married. Still, something is missing.
After arriving in the U.S., and finding her mother, Carla makes the agonizing decision to give up her baby for adoption so she can work and go to college. The story reaches the conclusion that is obvious the minute Carla shows signs of pregnancy: Alice and Jake adopt her baby. Unfortunately, these situations do not end happily for everyone. Many people who would make wonderful parents never get to adopt. Many people fleeing gangs, robbery, rape, and starvation never make it to “the land of opportunity,” or they are sent back. Yes, we all live under The Same Sky, but our lives are unimaginably different.
What Makes This Reviewer Grumpy?
Despite the usual punctuation and grammatical errors, the book is otherwise well-written, and flows smoothly:
- lots of split infinitives;
- missing commas;
- misspelled words: “preventative” is not a word – it is “preventive”;
- misplacement of the word “only” within sentences;
- beginning sentences with conjunctions;
- “bring” vs. “take” and “brought” vs. “took” (we bring things here; we take things there).