Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor

Title: Searching for Sky
Author: Jillian Cantor
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source: Netgalley

From Goodreads:

Sky and River have always lived on Island, the only world they’ve ever known. Until the day River spots a boat. Across Ocean, in a place called California, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she’s just met. Here the rules for survival are different. People rely on strange things like cars and cell phones. They keep secrets from one another. And without River, nothing makes sense. Sky yearns for her old life where she was strong and capable, not lost and confused. She must find River so they can return to Island, but the truth behind how they ended up there in the first place will come as the biggest shock of all.


This type of book is a tricky one to write. Every one of us sees the world as it is. If you are part of my generation and younger ones then you’ve never lived without a cell phone in your hand or a computer to use. I’ve never lived a life without cars or electricity or modern amenities. I’ve never lived a life where I didn’t go to school. I’ve never had to life off of the land or life on my own. So it’s really hard for me to imagine how someone who has never known any of this can see the world and obviously it was also hard for Jillian Cantor. This was a tricky book and while it had heart it didn’t quite get the end result that she (probably) wanted.

The protagonist, Sky/Megan, seems very ignorant and not just because she didn’t grow up in this world. I blame this on the fact that her entire life she has been taught to only know the things that she needs to know and never more. She has been taught to never question, to live life on strict routine. Never stray from the routine or break any of the strict rules that Helmut has put forth before them. Basically don’t use your mind. River on the other hand is referenced as a dreamer throughout the book. He questions everything, thinks of things bigger than himself, and is not afraid to be defiant.

Because of his ability to process things and question and understand the world better than Sky, it was River who should have adapted better to this new world of California, but instead it was Sky who thrived. I understand that this was because she had a “team of professionals” to help her, but even at the end of the book there was hardly any growth from River and that was disappointing.

One of the things that made this book so tricky was trying to figure out how people who have never been in modern society. I found it hard to believe that Petal and Helmut (the parents on Island) never called the rocks leading down or up, “steps”. Or that they never said any words, like “awesome” or “sucks” or whatever the equivalent would have been before they left California. It just doesn’t seem realistic to me that Sky would only know a few words. It’s strange that she would call a light the “sun”. She should have been smart enough to know that the sun emits light. She would have known the word light; therefore she should have known that a “light” on the ceiling was not the sun, but rather something that emitted light. Even if she didn’t know what electricity was she would have known the word light.

I have read other book very similar to this one and yet those other books surpassed this was by far. Like I’ve said, this is a tricky subject to write. A tricky point of view to write from and unfortunately for Cantor it just didn’t come out like she was hoping it would.