16 September 2015

Reading Challenge: This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof

Reading Challenge: Book That Made Me Cry

I actually “read” the Audible audiobook, narrated by Gail Shalan. She had a beautiful voice with a youthful, breathy tone, which made it easy to believe she was a teenager from Rocky Knob, Virginia, in the mid-1880’s, especially as the book is written in first person present tense, and entirely from Sarah’s point of view.

There were a couple of words I didn’t understand because of her accent—I worked out pecan, but others remained a mystery (in case you were wondering, in New Zealand we put the emphasis on the first syllable, so it’s pea-kin, whereas she pronounced it pi-can with a very short p). However, the voice and accent were authentic and well-portrayed, and not understanding the odd word didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story at all.

This Quiet Sky is the story of Sarah Miller and Tucker O’Shea, the oldest students at the one-room school in Rocky Knob. Sarah is new in school and behind in algebra; Tucker is a math whiz who is asked to tutor her. A hesitant friendship develops, hesitant mostly on Sarah’s side because of the rumour that Tucker is dying from some unknown cause. Those who have read Bischof’s earlier Cadence of Grace series will recall Sarah Miller is Lonnie’s aunt.

That was my first surprise, and it wasn’t entirely welcome. I only read the first book in the Cadence of Grace trilogy, because I didn’t enjoy the characters or the plot (the setting and the writing were excellent, but that’s not enough to make me read a novel!). Also, first person present tense suggests contemporary Young Adult fiction to me, and the cover also made me think this was a contemporary novella. So the time setting was another surprise.

No matter. I found I liked Sarah a lot more than Lonnie, and Tucker reminded me of Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars. Actually, there were a lot of similarities between This Quiet Sky and The Fault in Our Stars (thankfully, not the awful support group), but certainly in the theme and tone. Of course, This Quiet Sky is Christian fiction set in the 1800’s, which means Sarah and Tucker have a whole different set of challenges, but they also have the one thing Hazel and Gus didn’t have: faith.

And this faith aspect gives the novella a depth The Fault in Our Stars lacks, even in the much-shorter length. Recommended … but not if you’re in the mood for a light-hearted and relaxing read.

This story counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a book which made me cry.

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