Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shawn Stout - NO

Stout, Shawn K. A Tiny Piece of Sky, 322 pages. Philomel Books, 2016. $16.99. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G. 1

1-year old Frankie Baum is facing the entire summer of 1939 without her best friend, and just-barely-older sister, Joan. Things get worse when her father announces he’s bought a rundown restaurant and everyone will have to help get it up and running. Before the restaurant even opens it looks likely to fail when rumors begin to circulate about Frankie’s father being a possible German spy. Its left to Frankie to discover the truth about her father and make peace with a changing world. 

As much as I wanted to like this book, it failed me on many levels. The story felt incredibly unoriginal with a “youngest child makes good” storyline and numerous bits that felt leftover from every other WWII-era novel. Additionally, the author peppered the novel with countless little bits of incredibly specific history (titles of radio plays, names of cars, etc.) but without any payoff; they seemed more like she’d kept a list of things to include to make sure we knew she was writing a historical fiction novel. Finally, the historical themes of the novel would suggest this is aimed at a high school audience but the 11-year old main character makes it more comfortable for a younger crowd and I could not reconcile this easily. The author’s note indicates this is a story from her own family history, so perhaps she was too close to it to really make it work as a novel. 

NO. Reviewer: TC

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