Friday, May 4, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway - Between Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore

Book Synopsis
On a quiet Philadelphia morning in 1906, a newspaper headline catapults Alma Mitchell back to her past. A federal agent is dead, and the murder suspect is Alma’s childhood friend, Harry Muskrat. Harry—or Asku, as Alma knew him—was the most promising student at the “savage-taming” boarding school run by her father, where Alma was the only white pupil. Created in the wake of the Indian Wars, the Stover School was intended to assimilate the children of neighboring reservations. Instead, it robbed them of everything they’d known—language, customs, even their names—and left a heartbreaking legacy in its wake.
The bright, courageous boy Alma knew could never have murdered anyone. But she barely recognizes the man Asku has become, cold and embittered at being an outcast in the white world and a ghost in his own. Her lawyer husband, Stewart, reluctantly agrees to help defend Asku for Alma’s sake. To do so, Alma must revisit the painful secrets she has kept hidden from everyone—especially Stewart.

Told in compelling narratives that alternate between Alma’s childhood and her present life, Between Earth and Sky is a haunting and complex story of love and loss, as a quest for justice becomes a journey toward understanding and, ultimately, atonement.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

My Review
Between Earth and Sky begins in 1906 when Alma Mitchell reads in the newspaper that one of her childhood friends has been accused of murder.  Her friend, Asku, is a Native American man who grew up in the school where Alma's parents taught.  The school was designed to teach Native American children to abandon their culture and language and live in the white world.  Alma knows her kind childhood friend could not have committed murder, so she gets the help of her husband, an attorney, and looks for answers.  Her search leads back to her childhood years in the 1880's at the school.

Between Earth and Sky is a unique historical novel.  It takes place in two time periods - 1906 (Alma as an adult) and 1881 - 1891 (Alma's childhood and teen years).  The author does a very good job at delineating the two time periods and painting a vivid picture of both.

I had never heard of the special schools for Native Americans where they were considered "savages" and forced to abandon everything that was special and unique to their culture.  The prejudice they faced was really hard to read about.  When the children first came to the school their hair was cut and styled like white children's, and their clothes and even toys were burned.  They were not allowed to use their own native language and were punished when they did not speak English.

Alma is the only white child at the school.  She becomes close friends with several of the other students, and later, in her teens, becomes involved with one of the young men.   I can't say much more without giving away spoilers, but this is a really tragic story and it illuminates a heartbreaking chapter in American history.

The book is well written.  I cared about Alma, Asku, Tshikwa'set and the struggles that they faced.  Tshikwa'set described the gulf between the cultures well:  "It's not so easy.  Our worlds are like the sky and earth, Azaadiins.  They get very close, but never touch" (p. 207).

Later Asku also talks about the distance between the Native Americans and white people:  "I come from a great and proud people.  . . . We have lived many generations upon this land.  But if it be our destiny to continue, we must merge with the white man and meld to his ways.  Like two forks of the same great river, our destinies lie intertwined.  The course is set.  We cannot uphold the past any more than we can reverse the water's flow" (pp. 210 - 211).

This is a book I really thought about while I was reading and after.  I even looked for more reading material and a history podcast on this topic after I finished the novel.  I really felt for the Native Americans who were educated at this school (and other schools like it) and who lost their identity within their tribe -- but they never felt they fit into the white world either.

Fans of historical fiction, American history, and anyone who is interested in Native American culture will find Between Earth and Sky a fascinating read.

Author Bio
Amanda Skenandore is a historical fiction writer and registered nurse. In writing Between Earth and Sky, she has drawn on the experiences of a close relative, a member of the Ojibwe Tribe, who survived an Indian mission school in the 1950s. Between Earth and Sky is Amanda’s first novel. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Readers can visit her website at

Connect with Amanda

Website| Facebook | Twitter

One lucky reader will win a copy of Between Earth and Sky.  The giveaway ends at midnight on May 11.  The winner will be notified by email and needs to respond within 48 hours or another name will be drawn.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours.


Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Donna Jacoby said...

This book sounds like a winner. Thank you for the giveaway!

Faith Creech said...

This book looks really good. Would love to read it. Thanks for the chance at the giveaway!

faithdcreech at gmail dot com

Sunnie said...

This book does look good, I really like historical books.

ms-texas said...

this sounds like a good book! i'm always looking for something to read!

007blond said...

This is my kind of story!

Leela said...

It sounds like a good read.

Vanessa Taff said...

I'd love to curl up with this book and escape. It sounds like a great read!

desitheblonde said...

i love to read and the more book are better and then have book i do not like

Shakeia Rieux said...

Sounds like a great book, and it has a nice cover.

Buddy Garrett said...

It sounds like an interesting read. I want to read it.