“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Escape Under the Forever Sky • Middle-grade fiction

Escape Under the Forever Sky
by Eve Yohalem
Spring 2009 • Chronicle Books • ages 10 and up
You'd think that being the daughter of the American ambassador to Ethiopia would be one adventure after another, right? Wrong.
Story: Thirteen-year-old Lucy Hoffman never gets to see anything beyond the walls of the embassy compound. All she can do is read about the exotic and exciting world outside and imagine what it would be like to be part of it. Until she gets kidnapped. All alone in the Ethiopian wild, Lucy has to use her knowledge of African animal life along with her inventiveness, will, and courage to escape and find her way to freedom.
Story behind the story: Eve Yohalem explains how she got the idea for ESCAPE UNDER THE FOREVER SKY: "... from a news story I found online when I was staying up way past a decent bedtime, surfing aimlessly. There I was, hunched at my desk in tattered old pajamas, slack-jawed, eyes glazed over (you know the look), when I saw this news headline: “Ethiopian Girl Kidnapped, Saved by Wild Lions.” From that moment on, I was possessed. It didn’t matter that I knew nothing about Ethiopia or lions or how to survive alone in the bush with no food and an injured foot. I heard Lucy’s voice in my head everywhere I went and I had to bring her to life on the page." She adds that "the girl was saved and returned to her family, but beyond that I don’t know. The news article never gave her name or even the name of the village where she lived."

Watch/share this trailer to get the sense of what Lucy was feeling, seeing, hearing, while alone in the African wild.

"Teens itching to read about life on another continent will relish Yohalem’s exciting debut novel set in Africa.... Yohalem’s tale weaves together the beauty of the African wildlife with the harsh realities of a poor and unstable region. Scenes depicting Lucy’s resourcefulness are riveting, and the author’s descriptions of Ethiopian culture will pique young readers’ curiosity about life abroad."... -- Booklist

"Lucy's past and present are gracefully woven together, through well-integrated flashbacks, into a powerful picture of the life of a foreigner in Ethiopia. The story should appeal to all with a sense of adventure."-- Publishers Weekly

"Yohalem effectively conveys the immediacy of Lucy's terror and fear as well as her deep love for the natural beauty around her. How stalwart Lucy escapes and survives makes this an engrossing journey from innocence to experience."-- Kirkus Reviews

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent. Please check the comments link to read what your colleagues have to say.


EShay said...

Escape Under the Forever Sky was the first book I have read, in quite a long time, that I had to sit down and read.
The information about Africa was intriguing and the fact that it was based on a true story added to the appeal.
I was drawn to Lucy, the main character. She seemed rather old for her age, but perhaps living in various countries would do that.
I think 5th grade and up would be intrigued by the quick read.
I give it a 5.

Tina's Blog said...

The UPS man just delivered this book yesterday, which I received via the Picnic Basket, and since I was just finishing a book up, it came at the perfect time. Eve Yohalem's first novel is set in Ethiopia, featuring Lucy, the US Ambassador's thirteen year old daughter. Lucy and her mother live in a residence inside the US compound in Ethiopia. Lucy feels like her mother is too overprotective - she isn't allowed to do anything fun while they are living in this beautiful country. Lucy is especially attracted to the interesting wildlife- lions, monkeys, hyenas - that all live in Ethiopia, but her mother refuses to let her go on trips to the bush as she wishes. Finally Lucy convinces one of their domestics that he does not need to wait at her friend's house during a visit and can just return after a few hours to pick her up. Lucy and Tana, her friend, then go to the mall by themselves. It is on this trip that Lucy is kidnapped. The entire time she is held captive only spans a few days, but Lucy is especially disheartened to find out that the embassy is unwilling to negotiate with her captors. After hearing this Lucy realizes she must take things into her own hands. Despite the wildlife, weather, and other dangerous aspects of being alone in remote Ethiopia, Lucy feels as though her best chance at survival is to escape and attempt to find her way to some civilization. Her voyage is full of suspense as well as interesting tidbits about life in Ethiopia.

This is a great suspense filled realistic fiction book for tweens. I was especially interested because the story features a child of US Ambassador. One of my uncles works for the US Embassy and my cousin, much like Lucy in this story, has spent his entire childhood abroad. And, just as in this story, my uncle was also stationed in Africa at one point. He has wonderful stories about the animals and way of life I have enjoyed listening to.
I give this one a 5.

Elizabeth said...

Escape Under the Forever Sky was a great book. The information about the climate and parts of Ethopia were informative. To think that that write just took a story about a girl kidnapped from her village researched Ethopia and then created a work of fiction was amazing. The fictionalized book version was more interesting as Lucy isn't rescued by the police but continues on her journey to escape from her captors. The flashbacks help give insight into Lucy's frame of mind as she is held captive and how her experiences in the end help her on her journey. I can't wait for my daughter to read this book. I would give it a 5.

Barbara said...

Escape Under the Forever Sky was a quick and intriguing read. It combined the familiar "suffering" of teenage girls everywhere with the unfamiliar background of Ethiopia. In this story, the author was able to weave elements of environmental concerns, politics, drug trafficking, and poverty at a level that could be understood by middle schoolers. The text was never preachy, but was informative. It also held just the right amount of suspense to keep it a page turner.
The universal caring of mothers (a caring that does not always require shared language) was also portrayed in an amazingly non-gushy way.
I think middle school girls would enjoy and identify with aspects of Lucy's character and the changes she is able to go through.
Rating: 5

Danielle said...

I wasn't sure about the story for the first chapter or so, but it kept getting better and better. Lucy's personality shone through and the descriptions in her flashbacks and of her current circumstances were well written. I particularly enjoyed the cultural information that was blended into the story. Eve Yohalem did a great job on her first novel. I give it a 5.

julie said...

Escape Under the Forever Sky is a slow starter. It took a few chapters for me to really get into it. But, once I did I enjoyed the book very much. If you can get a student to give it a chance, it will be a good read. I recommend it for 5th grade and up. Rating - 4 out of 5.

StacyB said...

"Escape Under the Forever Sky" is quick suspenseful read in which I cheered for Lucy and came away learning some new information afterwards too! I would highly recommend this book for your middle school classroom library and I plan on passing it along to my summer reading club as well. The author combines all the elements of a terrific book by using flashbacks, character development, fight or flight and wraps the story up nicely. Thanks for a terrific summer read!

Anonymous said...

I thought that this book was very well written. In sixth grade we study Africa, and I know that my students will enjoy the suspense of this story. It also teaches a good lesson about following the rules when in another country. I look forward to sharing this book.

CPA Mom said...

Outstanding novel. Read my review here: http://cpamomva.blogspot.com/2009/08/escape-under-forever-sky.html

Anonymous said...

Escape Under the Forever Sky was a book that was difficult to put down. Readers will be drawn to the main character, Lucy, and they will get to experience Africa from the comfort of their favorite reading spot. The author gives us insight to traditions and customs of Africa as well.

This book is well written and I give it a 5.

Bloggin Betty said...

A beautifully written story about a 13year old daughter of the American Ambassador to Ethiopia who is kidnapped. I fell in love with Lucy and her strong will and unbending spirit. It makes me want to go to Africa...but not get kidnapped.

I give it a 5.

Lindsey B.
Adjunct Faculty, Utah