Searching For Sky by Jillian Cantor

Searching For Sky
Written by Jillian Cantor
Published July 3rd 2014
288 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
River means everything to Sky. They have lived alone together on Island for as long as they can remember. The two of them hunt for food, wash in Falls and curl up together in Shelter. Their life is simple and safe. Until River sees a boat . . .

Across Ocean is California, a place where nothing makes sense to Sky. She is separated from River and taken to live with a grandmother she doesn’t know. Lost and heartbroken, Sky searches for him so they can return to Island, only to find out that their paradise wasn’t as perfect as she thought, and everything she’s ever known and loved may have been a lie.

A gripping and beautifully told story of love and survival in a hostile world... Ours.
Sixteen year old Sky lives on the Island with River, the only home they've ever known. They spend their days spearing fish in the shallow water of the Pacific Ocean, while across the sea a busy civilization continues, not knowing their whereabouts. They've always had one another for support, until River sees a boat on the horizon.

Rather than facing the Island alone, Sky reluctantly leaves with River, who remembers a life before the Island with his father Helmut and Sky's mother Petal. Both have been gone for almost a year, and Sky can't risk losing River too. But what awaits the teens is a media circus, a flurry of doctors and a life that neither are prepared for. Upon reaching the mainland, River decides that he and Sky need to go their separate ways, leaving Sky heartbroken and left with a woman she's never known. Sky's grandmother represents the life her mother lived before moving to the Island, but refuses to tell Sky how she came to leave California. It's left up to next door neighbour Ben to answer Sky's questions, after he's recruited to bring normalcy into the teen's life.

Among the therapists and counselors, Sky is told that her name isn't Sky and that her life on the Island was based on lies and false pretenses. But who is she to believe? 

My Thoughts

I was excited to start Searching for Sky, having seen so many positive and emotional reviews, but I'm not quite sure it lived up to the hype for me. It was certainly emotional and heart wrenching in places, but I felt a strange disconnection to the characters. Sky and River are friends who are on the cusp of falling into a relationship, even though they were raised almost as siblings. Where Sky is the dependable one, the provider, his father Helmut had always described River as a dreamer. The storyline begins with both parents gone and life on the island continues. The two teens live in a comfortable routine, still following Helmut's rules to keep them safe. But River begins to remember his previous life, memories that his father had always dismissed. So when he sees a boat off the coast, he starts a fire on the beach and alerts those on board to their whereabouts. He wants to leave, and is willing to leave Sky behind. She wants to stay, but gives in as to not remain behind alone. And their new lives begin.

Their naive innocence to everyday life we take for granted is quite bizarre. From the boat that escorts them from the island, to the hospital they are taken to, to using the toilet which they continue to call Toilet Tree. I found it fascinating, like toddlers exploring their new world. But just when the reader begins to invest in the characters, it felt as though River was torn away, and in his place was Ben, the young man that lives next door to Sky's grandmother. I would have liked to have seen River's point of view in his absence, as the reader is left guessing to where he is. Ben is a lovely character, he's introduced into Sky's life to help her find a sense of normalcy. He's quickly smitten with her, and we see glimpses of his interest through the sketches he does of the Island Girl. He seems to be a character that is always waiting in the wings whenever the storyline needs him, and at Sky's grandmothers whim while Sky refuses to adjust to life away from the only home she's ever known, she's desperate to return to the Island and River is never far from her thoughts.

When she finally does find River again, his new life is heartbreaking and I couldn't help but feel sadness towards what he has endured and continues to do so. His life isn't the safe and secure existence that Sky has been brought home to, and he has no one for support or to confide in. The reasoning behind their Island life isn't what I had expected, and sadly River bares the brunt of the media witch hunt. It wasn't until then that I felt an attachment to River, and would have felt a greater connection to the story if his journey in California had been shared with the reader. 

Sky's journey wasn't as engaging as I would have thought, she wasn't taught the simple aspects of everyday living, but seemingly picked it up on her own. Considering her grandmother has hired a team of professionals to ease her back into living, we really only get a sense of one psychologist who is determined to force Sky into a false confession but admitting she'd been abused on the Island, which never actually happened. I really enjoyed it up until they both returned to California, then seemed to lose that enchantment which felt as though it left when River briefly exited the storyline. I liked it and wanted to love it, but Sky's character just made it too difficult to connect. The majority of young adult contemporary readers will adore Searching For Sky, no doubt. Just make sure you have your tissues handy.


  1. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote in this review!

    I would have loved it if River hadn't just disappeared almost immediately when they went to the modern world. I thought he was a much more captivating character, compared to Sky.

    I have a review for this coming up soon, and I do get emotional (but probably not in the way people might think, haha). I just could not get over the ending.

    Lovely review, Kelly :D

  2. There are some books which need a warning label - "TISSUES MAY BE REQUIRED" - on them so you're prepared! Glad you liked this one. It is such an interesting idea... reverse dystopian in a way with the modern day world being the one which is terrifying and unfamiliar. Great review, Kelly!

  3. I've seen really emotional reviews for this one as well but I should probably lower my excitement because I don't want the hype to kill it! Even so, I can just see it staring back at me and making me want to read it. The Aussie cover is just so gorgeous! Plus, I don't mind some good young adult contemporary. I'll make sure to grab some tissues! Fantabulous review! :D

  4. I'm seriously interested in this one. I got a review copy but I just never really felt like it, you know?? It's next on my TBR though of course. x) But the more people say they like it, the more interested I am. Except for you, of course. Rocking the boat. Tut, tut, Kelly. Really? Getting critical in your old age, eh.

  5. Love this review. Sad to see that you didn't like it as much as I did, but I think you might have fallen into the Hype Pool and you were expecting something much more, I guess. I agree with River needing his own POV told, it would have made the book a lot better, and I definitely would have cried a whole lot more. But I guess I know why they kept it just Sky, especially with everything that happens to River, I think I got a bigger impact out of it, from finding out all at once. Love the review!

  6. Awww i'm sorry this book didn't live up to the hype for you Kelly, I know Faye was in emotional tatters with this book but I can understand why you didn't fully connect with the characters. I'm not really in an emotional tissue-grabbing book mood right now so I don't think I'll be picking this up anytime soon but when I do, I will definitely keep thoughts about the POV and characters in mind. Lovely review, Kelly!


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