Title: Under A Painted Sky
Pub: March 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction (US – mid 1800s)
All Samantha Young wants to do is leave Missouri and return to New York with her father, and live out her dream of becoming a professional musician. However, those dreams are dashed after a tragic accident leaves her father dead and Samantha fleeing for her life and freedom. Soon she meets Annamae, a slave determined to runaway. They join forces and flee Missouri, heading into the western frontier.
Disguised as boys on the Oregon Trail, they soon find themselves in the company of cowboys, and learn that it’s a lot harder than they thought to head west while also on the run.
I absolutely loved Stacey Lee’s debut novel. Under A Painted Sky is a tale of adventure, about perseverance, and the trust one has for themselves and the trust they have in others.
Under A Painted Sky was actually one of my favorite reads of 2016 and that totally took me by surprise because it’s historical fiction (it’s not fantasy or sci-fi, whaaatt?).
One particular thing that reeled me in was Samantha’s voice. Her voice, her characterization and the voices of the other characters were unique and weaved through the story so nicely that it didn’t feel clunky or out of place.
I commend Lee for being able to bring these characters together and share their narratives in a light and humorous way, but at the same time not take away the seriousness behind their struggles.
Samantha is a Chinese-American in a time period when a majority of America looked down upon this community. Annamae is a runaway slave who just wants to find her brother and live her life.
I loved Samantha and Annamae, but I also enjoyed the cowboys – Cay, West, and Peety. Something I’ll appreciate forever and ever is the fact that Peety is Mexican. I don’t think many people realize that a majority of cowboys in Texas and the western frontier were Mexican and former slaves.
I also thought it was really neat how Lee included different languages and cultural references. It goes along with how unclunky this book was. The languages and cultural references didn’t feel out of place or as if they’re included ‘just because’.
I just can’t get over how much I enjoyed this novel.
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