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Escape Under the Forever SkyReview - Escape Under the Forever Sky
A Novel
by Eve Yohalem
Chronicle Books, 2009
Review by Amy Ridley
Jan 26th 2010 (Volume 14, Issue 4)

Thirteen year-old Lucy Hoffman moves around a lot. Her mother works for the United States government and has been named the ambassador to Ethiopia. This move has been much harder on Lucy than all the others because her father has not come with them. He has taken a job in Indonesia and is supposed to be commuting back and forth but his visits have all but stopped. This leaves Lucy pretty much on her own at the U.S. compound. She spends most of her time with the older man that helps around their house. She has two friends at school, Tana and Teddy. Americans are not well-liked at her school which she has not encountered before.

Lucy's loneliness has made her take some risks lately that has caused her to be grounded. She doesn't understand why she cannot come and go as she pleases. Her mother insists that it is too dangerous and sends Marines with Lucy most of the time. Lucy thinks this is ridiculous. All she wants to do is learn more about the culture and learn more about the animals that surround her home. She wants to work with animals one day and would spend all her time on game drives in the bush if her mother would let her. She has to settle for twice a month instead. Lucy decides that she is going to take matters into her own hands and sneaks out with Tana to hear some local music and ends up being kidnapped.

Lucy soon finds herself in the bush with the animals that she has fallen in love with. This was not how Lucy imagined getting up close to the animals that she has admired from afar. She needs to rely on all the facts that she remembers from spending hours reading about these animals in order to survive.

Lucy does not realize the dangers of living in Ethiopia. She has lived in several other countries but none that have the risks that this country does. She knows that she is driven around in a bullet-proof car but it's clear that she doesn't grasp why. Her mother doesn't make much of an effort to tell her why. Lucy's frustration in not being allowed to go anywhere is understandable due to her mother's lack of communication skills. Her only true interaction with Lucy is when she wants her to attend something with her. This lack of communication between the two is the reason why Lucy ends up in great danger.

Lucy's kidnapping allows her to appreciate the freedom that she has as an American and that she takes that for granted. She's able to see the environment her friend Teddy lives in every day and realizes that her unhappiness at being stuck on the compound is a bit selfish. She learns an important lesson from some local villagers about the goodness in people and who she can really trust.

Yohalem's vivid descriptions of the animals and Ethiopian landscape make the reader feel as though they are in the bush with Lucy gazing at a lioness and her cubs. The story comes to life when Lucy is on her own trying to get home. The villagers are easy to picture with the detailed descriptions of their jewelry and clothes. It is obvious to the reader that Yohalem has experienced this firsthand.

This book is appropriate for ages twelve and up.

 

© 2010 Amy Ridley

 

 

Amy Ridley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Boston University.


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