The Sky at Our Feet by Nadia Hashimi

Posted June 14, 2021 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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The Sky at Our Feet

The Sky at Our Feet

by Nadia Hashimi

Publisher: HarperCollins on March 6, 2018
Genre: Contemporary
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
Representation: Disability, Own Voices Author
Content Warnings: Medical Content

Rating: ★★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads or buy the book at Bookshop.org

Jason has just learned that his Afghan mother has been living illegally in the United States since his father was killed in Afghanistan. Although Jason was born in the US, it’s hard to feel American now when he’s terrified that his mother will be discovered—and that they will be separated.

When he sees his mother being escorted from her workplace by two officers, Jason feels completely alone. He boards a train with the hope of finding his aunt in New York City, but as soon as he arrives in Penn Station, the bustling city makes him wonder if he’s overestimated what he can do.

After an accident lands him in the hospital, Jason finds an unlikely ally in a fellow patient. Max, a whip-smart girl who wants nothing more than to explore the world on her own terms, joins Jason in planning a daring escape out of the hospital and into the skyscraper jungle—even though they both know that no matter how big New York City is, they won’t be able to run forever.

 

The Sky at Our Feet is… okay.  Just okay.  It has some good themes, a good friendship, and some potential, but there were a few minor things that made it fall under excellent for me.  As always with books like these, I want to underline that The Sky at Our Feet is a middle grade novel and I am well above the target age group.  Things I notice may not be an obstacle to a middle grade reader, and as such, all opinions should be taken with a grain of salt.

I think the representation here was great.  Hashimi is a first generation immigrant – both her parents were from Afghanistan, which makes The Sky at Our Feet an Own Voices novel. Authentic voices are always the best kind.  You can see that she has personal ties to the fear Jason D. feels.  And of course, you do root for Jason D. as he tries to navigate New York City on his own and find his mother.

There are a few events and coincidences in the city – added to bring his adventure to the next level – that seem a bit extreme.  I sincerely doubt a kid who has never ridden a horse before would be able to steal a police horse, for example, let alone mount it so effectively and hang on, and that such a meticulously trained horse would just bolt off.  I confess – events like this are very much highlighted by my cynical adult eye, but for most of the intended audience, scenes like this would be part of The Sky at Our Feet‘s charm.

I do think I’d recommend this book for a middle grade reader.  It’s so nice to see diversity in books, and it’s good to see both immigration and epilepsy represented as well.  Middle grade readers will love Max and Jason D.  Aside from the intended audience, though, I don’t think The Sky at Our Feet transcends age groups.  There are some books that do – some books equally lovable to ten-year-olds and thirty-year-olds.  The writing in The Sky at Our Feet is too simple to be enjoyable for an older audience, the imagery too bluntly spelled out.  But for younger readers?  Yes, absolutely.  This book was written for them and I think they would enjoy it.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★ 1/2
Plot: ★★★ 1/2
Characters: ★★★
Writing: ★★★
Pacing: ★★★
Narrator: ★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★

three and a half star rating

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Did you ever dream of running away as a child?  Did you ever feel like you had to run away to survive?  If you’re comfortable, I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

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