Between Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore was an emotional, heartbreaking, gut wretching, page turner read for me. A story that left me thinking about it for many days afterwards.
When Alma was a young girl she attended a boarding school, run by her father. The Stover School’s purpose was to assimilate children of Indian reservations into white culture. Alma, the only white student, becomes close friends with the other students. As an adult, Alma learns that one of those close friends is accused of killing a federal agent. Alma begs her husband, Stewart, a lawyer, to help defend Harry. The story is told in present time and flashbacks to Alma’s time at Stover. As the story progresses we get a sense that something happened at the school that caused Alma to leave and never return until now. Though I wouldn’t really call it a plot driven book I couldn’t put it down. I had no idea what had happened at the school that caused Alma to leave her family and never return and I felt an urgent need to know. The characters felt real and developed. I understood the things they felt and I felt pain right along with them, and I sobbed right along with them. I loved the growth of Alma as she makes discoveries about what the school’s objective did for those students.
I love historical fiction and learning about events in the past. I knew of schools that were set up to “tame” the “savage” children. Between Earth and Sky not only expanded that knowledge but made it more personal and heartbreaking. It told a side to the issue of assimilating a people into a different culture that I think applies even today.
I truly loved this book. It was gut wrenching in parts but it left me with a reminder that I am no better, or worse, than anyone else. A story about a time when a group of people, a race, thought that anyone not like them was worthless. A reminder to me that though circumstances, details, etc. may be different those things still exist. A reminder to me that though others may look different, act different, live different, believe different, they still deserve respect from me. What I loved so much from this book is that these are the things I felt after reading it. I never felt that the author had an agenda, that she was trying to get me to feel these things. To come away with these lessons learned. I never felt the author was trying to make a point. The book was just a story about people. I was able to come away with what I wanted from it.
My copy of Between Earth and Sky was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!