Check out what I thought about Stacey Lee’s debut novel UNDER A PAINTED SKY!
Title: Under a Painted Sky
Author: Stacey Lee
B&N: Click click!!
Goodreads: Your shelf will be 100000x prettier with this book
Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.
This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.
I am a history nerd, so I always get excited about YA historicals. But I get more excited when they have:
- ladies being amazing
- ladies being besties
- a trio of cute boys who love each other (bromance alert)
Oh! Did I just describe Under a Painted Sky? I think I did!
Samantha and Annamae are the heart and soul of this book. Their friendship develops out of horrible circumstances, but it saves them. They both take turns being the strong one, relying on each other. I was so happy to find a book that puts female friendship at its center.
Historicals have this amazing job of being neither contemporary nor fantasy. They are both. It’s our world, but not our world all at once. Well, Under a Painted Sky nails that. Samantha’s experiences not only as a woman, but a Chinese woman come to life. Annamae’s plight as a slave seeking freedom. The Underground Railroad, life on the trails heading west, illness, and GIRLS ON THEIR PERIOD WHILE PRETENDING TO BE BOYS IN 1849.
And to swoon over romance for a second because who doesn’t love that? Sam and West!!! MY FEELS. Annamae and Petey are also adorable but Sam and West hit me hard. The best part of cross-dressing girls stories are when they can’t tell/show the dude they like them and it creates all kinds of shenanigans. This book had plenty of those ‘omg I like you so much’ moments.
Under a Painted Sky is one of the best books I read this year. I devoured it in a day. It has amazing characters and relationships, world building that sucks you in, and stakes that put the rest to shame.
We just need a dinosaur in the distance and IT ALL MAKES SENSE.
‘You miss being a girl?’ I ask her.
‘Not as much as I thought I would. Just feels like when I’m being a boy, I can cut a wider path.’