“Skylar is my name, tragically.”Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.
Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.
And he is like nothing Skylar has ever know.
I almost passed on this book because I didn’t particularly like the cover, or I wasn’t particularly connecting with it. But then I read the book and this smile started to spread across my face because this book just made me smile so much.
Skylar was one of the most optimistic teenage protagonists I’ve read in a while. When he talked about dealing with people who were nasty to him by finding something good about them and holding onto that for as long as possible, I just wanted to smile even as my heart broke. He didn’t have any friends apart from his dad and then he went missing, then all this stuff started to come out along the way but Skylar never acted like a brat. He just dealt with things and when he was struggling, he went to his new friends and I really wanted to pat him on the head and praise him for his healthy coping mechanisms. He was a complete delight and I’m so happy to see there’s a book in the series from Rafael’s POV because I can just imagine how smiley, stubborn Skylar comes across to Rafael.
Rafael, Annie and Audrey were all very different characters but all of them were wonderful in their own manner. How they all fit together and how their friendship got stronger by the day was a joy to read.
The plot was always moving and everytime I thought I knew where it was going, something different would happen. It had conflict without being uncomfortable to read and when I thought it was going to be predictable (for example, with the homophobia), it would surprise me in the best way. The romance was so very sweet and it slowly built up over time so you could understand why the two of them got together. It was just so lovely.
On the culture of the Shoshone, who are the main people in this book, I was relieved to see that the author is Plains Cree and Lenni Lenape and her best friend and grandfather were Shoshone. Given I’m not Native American myself, I appreciate it more when it’s #ownvoices because it means I’m not reading book with harmful representation in it and I know other people appreciate seeing when a book is #ownvoices as well.
Some people have pointed out that this book is fairly unrealistic for teenage boys in how Skylar doesn’t think about sex with Raphael pretty much at all, but when I finished the book, it didn’t strike me as any different from many YA romance books. I understand why this book might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I really loved this book.