Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood
Release date: May 20, 2014
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Reading level: Young Adult
Series: Book 1
Source: Publisher (ARC)
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A truly beautiful book about the summer that changed one girl's life, as her mum leaves home, travellers set up camp in the family's field, her older brother goes off the rails, and she falls in love for the very first time. Opening with a funeral, Iris is mourning the boy in the casket - but who is it? Sam, her tearaway brother, or Trick, her tentative boyfriend? Over one long hot summer, we find out just how their three lives were turned upside-down.
Infinite Sky was a beautifully-written debut that definitely tugged at the heartstrings. At first it took me a few chapters to get into it. The writing style is very different from what I'm used to, and it seemed that this might be aimed at a more middle-grade audience. Luckily, the more I read, the more I got engrossed in this novel and I will definitely be recommending it.
Iris was such a unique character. Even though she is so young, Iris has already dealt with much more than anyone her age should have to experience. Her mother left and now Iris, her father, and her older brother are alone in their country home. Everything changes even more when a family of travelers sets up camp on their property. Iris gets to know a group of people completely different from herself and she develops a special relationship with the boy- Trick.
The family dynamic was such a key element of Infinite Sky and I loved that about this novel. While we did get to know some of Iris's friends and family friends, the novel mainly focused on Iris's family. Her father was struggling to raise two teenagers on his own and her brother had gotten in with the bad crowd. We were able to witness Iris's frustration with her family and how much she needed her mother. Iris has also grown frustrated with her childhood best friend, Matty, who has become judgmental and catty.
Iris is the only person that is curious about the travelers and doesn't see them as a threat or trouble. I liked watching her friendship with Trick grow and develop. Trick shows Iris a different lifestyle and encourages her to live more freely. I have read books in the past about gypsy communities, but I liked the way that Infinite Sky featured them from an outsider's perspective.
I wasn't completely expecting the emotional impact Infinite Sky would have on me. Although the book opens with a mysterious funeral, we don't learn anything more about it until the final few chapters. I was tearing up reading about Iris's pain and all she had to face. Flood definitely knows how to pack an emotional punch and she was truly able to show just how much one summer can change everything.
This was a gorgeous story about growing up, family, and first love and I will definitely be recommending it. CJ Flood has proved herself as a writer with her debut novel, and even though I was a bit uncertain about it at first, I quickly was captivated by Iris and her story. Apparently this was the first in a series, so I will be interested in seeing what happens next.