Night Sky, Jolene Perry – Available only in eBook at present, this book was suggested to me as an alternative to the ethnic whitewashing of the YA genre (see my post “All the White Girls,” which brewed a bit of a firestorm last Friday).
True: Night Sky features a quarter-Mexican male protagonist named Jameson.
True: It also stars a half-Native American love interest who goes by Sky.
False: Night Sky is interesting beyond those two facts.
Strangely, Jameson’s mother is my favorite character in this whole book, if not a tad (and by tad I mean extremely) unrealistic. I’m not sure what planet Perry was living on when she decided the average mother would be okay with finding out her son had a “sleepover” with his girlfriend (on his bed, together). Her cupboard-slamming reminds me of my own mother, which makes her endearing.
Sky is a good character, too: she has a no-drama attitude that many American high schoolers could look to for wisdom, a delightfully positive outlook on life despite the momentous conflict of her childhood, and a friendly demeanor that is never faked. The narrator, Jay, is always describing her as liquid; if anything, where Perry falls short as a writer in concept and plotting, she makes up for in fabulous descriptors. I have a solid image of Sky in my mind, and she is gorgeous.
Unfortunately, Jay is a really unlovable character. He spends almost the entire book moaning about his life in thought-italics–to bring back a term that seems to be dying, he epitomizes emo. To some degree, Jay does have things to be miserable about: his best friend, Sarah, is a real dumb floozy of a character, and like a shitty teenage girl she is constantly leading him on and cutting him down. His parents split up. His school life goes to hell. But I never got to feel bad for Jay because he whined incessantly–and always with at least two ellipses per sentence. There weren’t any typos in this book, but the proliferation of the ellipsis (especially when the drama kicked up a notch halfway through) made me wonder if Perry’s editor just sat around picking his nose.
In truth, I wish Night Sky had been about Sky instead of about Jameson. I’m sure we could debate who the book is actually about from a literary perspective, but safe to say, Jay tells and dominates the narrative. Jay’s life is mundane at best–which, frankly, does not make for a very interesting novel. The enjoyable parts were sprinkled with Sky’s clever quips, sexy liquid movements, and the increasingly-downplayed cultural drama that stems from Sky’s Alaskan Tlingit origins.
While Night Sky offers interesting and valuable cultural perspectives, the novel itself is so meaningless, it makes me remember how I never wanted to remember high school. I’m giving it two hearts instead of one because Sky was so sexy, and I finished it.
This book gets: ♥♥ out of 5