April 7, 2014
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The signs are everywhere, Jory's stepfather, Caleb, says.Red leaves in the springtime. Pages torn from a library book. All the fish in the aquarium facing the same way. A cracked egg with twin yolks. Everywhere and anywhere. And because of them Jory's life is far from ordinary. He must follow a very specific set of rules: don't trust anyone outside the family, have your works at the ready just in case, and always, always watch out for the signs. The end is coming, and they must be prepared.
School is Jory's only escape from Caleb's tight grasp, and with the help of new friends Jory begins to explore a world beyond his family's farm. As Jory's friendships grow, Caleb notifies Jory's mother and siblings that the time has come for final preparations.
They begin an exhausting schedule digging a mysterious tunnel in anticipation of the disaster. But as the hold gets deeper, so does the family's doubt about whether Caleb's prophecy is true. When the stark reality of his stepfather's plans becomes clear, Jory must choose between living his own life or following Caleb, shutting his eyes to the bright world he's just begun to see.
Watch the Sky, Kirsten Hubbard's debut Middle Grade novel, may be the most magical feeling non-magic-having book I have read. It is all realistic fiction and does feel realistic. Yet, there's also an air of magic, of something a bit beyond reality, something otherworldly to it.
Jory's life is so outside the norm - from his silent sister Kit to his stepfather's constant watch for signs, his belief that the 'end' is coming and warnings to watch out for 'Officials, - even at the beginning that it's hard to guess just how much farther things will go, what Caleb thinks/plans/does. Or how it will effect Jory and the rest of the family.
From the very beginning Jory and his story completely captured me. I wanted to know more about their family, about Caleb - his ever vigilant for signs, for the end stepfather. I wanted to know about Kit, about their isolation.
As Caleb came up with his plan, as he altered the family's routine so to fit with the plan, I still wanted to know more . . . but I was also worried for Jory and Kit, their mother and brother. I couldn't tell where things were going but it didn't seem to be anywhere good.
Jory's life at school, its developments and growth, was a fantastic balance to his home life. It was a break from the anxiety, while still leaving Jory very worried and concerned. It gives readers a bit of a break but also glimpse at a different side of Jory.
There are some pretty heavy parts to Watch the Sky but how the author approaches the tale along with who Jory is keep it from being too much. You do have that anxiety over what will happen to them, of what's to come, but the lighter moments are equally well done and bring it all together nicely. The ending did leave me wondering about a few things but I think the resolution fits the target age of the book.
Watch the Sky is a Middle Grade read recommended also to YA readers and beyond.
thank you to the publisher for my review copy received via NetGalley