Signed, Skye Harper by Carol Lynch Williams ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster
Target audience: Middle grade
Keywords: 1970s, moms/daughters, road trip, young love, Southern setting
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)
Summary: Winston and her grandmother head out on a secret road trip to pick up Skye Harper (Winston’s mother) from Vegas and find themselves with a very interesting stowaway.
Fourteen and fifteen are some of the most awkward ages I remember from being a teenager. (Does that read as ancient as it sounds?) So it’s not surprise I totally related to Winston’s insecurities about her body, her dreams about succeeding, and secretly being in love with a boy she has always known but has suddenly been discovered by everyone else.
In the beginning of the book, Winston mentions how she comes from a family of “sighers” and I laughed at this because (as I’m sure my mom can attest to) I was pretty moody as a kid too. (Truth: I never thought I was quite as moody as my mom thought I was.) But when it’s summer, it’s super hot out, your boobs are noticeably big and in your way, and the boy you like doesn’t really talk to you? I get it. Add in a mother who left you for grander things on the West Coast and is suddenly sending letters that she needs to be picked up. She wants to be welcomed back home. That’s a lot for one summer!
One of the best parts of reading Signed, Skye Harper was this timeless feeling it evoked, so similar to all the Judy Blume books I loved when I was a kid and still love today. Even though the story is set in the 1970s, anyone could relate to a young girl on the cusp of womanhood, her close relationship with her grandma, and her observations about her family and people in her life. (Bonus: a cute, loyal dog and a one-legged rooster!)
And the boy. Oh boy. Steve surprised me. I wanted him to be a sincere kid for Winston’s sake, of course, but he really surprised me. I was so upset when I realized Nanny and Winston would be leaving town for awhile and there would be no Steve, but he was a cunning one and ended up on the road, in the thick of things, with the two of them. There was definitely a nice chemistry between the two, and I got out of kick of watching them get closer through this experience.
I honestly can’t say enough great things about Signed, Skye Harper. Would Winston forgive her mother? Could Skye be able to ever be a mother to Winston? And what about Nanny’s feelings? The importance of these situations were balanced so nicely with delightful details (even a Nanny love story) and happy endings you wouldn’t have completely expected. Plus, I loved how Winston was so focused on being a competitive swimmer and how her love of Mark Spitz and his time at the Olympics was folded in.
Be ready to smile, swoon, and sympathize with Winston during this summer of discovery. I’m so glad I tagged along for the ride.