Love Like Sky

Georgiana "G-baby" Matthews has what seems like the weight of the world on her 11-year-old shoulders. Her mother's recent remarriage has meant a summer move to the suburbs and away from Atlanta and her best friend, Nikki; come fall, G-baby will have to go to a new school. The move also means a new stepsister for G-baby: Tangie, an ornery teen whose younger sister died in a car crash. It's while G-baby and her six-year-old sister, Peaches, are back in Atlanta visiting their dad and new stepmom, Millicent, that the freshly formed family threatens to unravel.

While G-baby is off with Nikki, having snuck out of Daddy and Millicent's house in the night, Peaches becomes sick enough to require hospitalization. G-baby laments that she wasn't there for her sister, who she knew had been feeling ill: "It was possible that little sisters go away and never come back," she reflects. "It happened to Tangie's li'l sister."

Blended family stories and sick sibling sagas are nothing new in middle-grade fiction, but with her debut novel, Leslie C. Youngblood makes this turf her own. Love Like Sky references Charlie Brown, the Kardashians and other pop-culture touchstones familiar to most middle schoolers, but the book also name checks Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown--names that a black "almost-teenager" like G-baby would surely know. Love Like Sky has an abiding warmth, captured in its title--a reference to the sky-high love that G-baby knows her mother and father feel for her. By book's end, she understands that they're hardly the only ones. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

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