Russell, Kristin. A Sky for Us Alone. Katherine Tegen Books, 2019. 319p. ISBN: 9780062697028. $17.99. OT ***
Kristin Russell’s debut novel is a rare glimpse of young adulthood in Southern Appalachia. Newly eighteen, Harlowe Compton is looking for a way out of Strickland County. He’s hoping to avoid the ever-dwindling, rough work of the mines and rampant opioid use that permeates his homeland. When his older brother is murdered, Harlowe finds himself searching for answers to uncover the truth about his brother. Harlowe finds hope and a burgeoning love interest in the new-to-town, Tennessee.
Bleak and often violent, the story gives us a harsh look at the realities of poverty and drug addiction in rural small towns. While it’s refreshing to get a young adult narrative set in rural Applachia, the narrative is slow to build and challenging to read in parts. The characters grow on you towards the end of the book, yet the ending is ultimately unsatisfying. A fine, well-written book for older teens to round out a collection, but not one that will be flying off the shelves.
-Megan Keane, San Mateo County Libraries