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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Escape Under the Forever Sky* by Eve Yohalem- young adult book review  
Escape Under the Forever Sky
by Eve Yohalem
Grades 6+ 224 pages Chronicle April 2009 Hardcover    

Thirteen-year-old Lucy Hoffman has traveled all over the world, thanks to her parents’ jobs. Her mother is the new U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, which means that Lucy gets to live in the official ‘residence’ which is protected by armed guards, is driven everywhere in a bullet-proof limo, and is surrounded by the exotic and colorful Ethiopian culture. The trouble is, Lucy’s mother is so over-protective that Lucy hardly ever gets to experience the country.

Lucy plans to follow in the footsteps of her idols: Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, and Biruté Galdikas, wildlife experts who lived among the great apes of Africa. Her time in Ethiopia would be the perfect chance to get an early start on her dream, but Lucy’s mother is even afraid of the animals, so Lucy’s mini-safaris are limited, too.

Despite the extraordinary circumstances of her life, Lucy is very much a typical American teen. That is, she resents her mother’s dictatorial manner and takes every opportunity to rebel. Unfortunately for Lucy, her mother’s concerns about her safety prove to be well-founded.

During an unauthorized excursion, Lucy is kidnapped. There’s absolutely no question that her abductors are dangerous and completely willing to follow through on their threats to kill Lucy if their demands aren’t met. Escape seems like the smart option, but outside her makeshift prison lies nothing but miles and miles of wilderness populated by dozens of animal species that are every bit as dangerous as humans. Just because she’s trapped in a no-win situation doesn’t mean that Lucy is giving up, though. She’s tough and she’s smart, but best of all, she’s a fighter.

Escape Under the Forever Sky is author Eve Yohalem’s first novel and also the first middle-grade novel from Chronicle Books. If this is an example of what we can expect from them in the future, then there is about to be a new golden age in YA novels. Yohalem writes with an uncluttered and evocative style that captures the culture and landscape so effectively that readers will feel the African sun beating down on them. Lucy’s adventure incorporates not only a knowledge of wildlife and nature but also builds on a sense of community among both human and animal cultures.

Reminiscent of Island of the Blue Dolphins, Yohalem’s novel introduces a bright, resourceful, and compassionate heroine that young readers will want to emulate. Inspirational without being saccharine or preachy, Escape Under the Forever Sky is surely going to become a classic in YA literature, and deservedly so. Never mind those five gold stars at the head of this review – I give it at least 10 stars!
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Deborah Adams/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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