Finished A Sky For Us Alone by Kristin Russell. I received a copy for review.
Summary (from Goodreads):
“In Strickland County, there isn’t a lot of anything to go around. But when eighteen-year-old Harlowe Compton’s brother is killed by the Praters—the family who controls everything, from the mines to the law—he wonders if the future will ever hold more than loss. Until he meets Tennessee Moore.
With Tennessee, Harlowe feels for the first time that something good might happen, that he might’ve found the rarest thing of all: hope. Even as she struggles with the worst of the cards she’s been dealt, Tennessee makes Harlowe believe that they can dare to forge their own path—if they only give it a shot.
But as Harlowe searches for the answers behind his brother’s death, his town’s decay, and his family’s dysfunction, he discovers truths about the people he loves—and himself—that are darker than he ever expected. Now, Harlowe realizes, there’s no turning back.
A powerful story of first love, poverty, and the grip of the opioid crisis in the rural South, Kristin Russell’s gorgeous debut novel asks a universal question: When hope seems lost, are dreams worth the risk?”
There are two stories here: the town and the opioid crisis, mixed with poverty and health problems, and the love story with Harlowe and Tennessee. I really enjoyed the first part; it was captivating and devastating. The love story aspect distracted me and, for me at least, seemed like it was thrown in because contemporary YA novels have to have a love story. (This is not true but it feels like some imprints and authors insist it is.)
I love the first aspect, though. You could feel the desperation in the town and the way that some residents have a “We’re all in it together” attitude and take care of each other the best way they can and how others have the “I only care about myself” viewpoint. The poverty and the fact that the mine is the only good job around would be horrible enough, but when you add in the current opioid problems, it has a harrowing effect on the town.
I liked Harlowe and Tennessee and I didn’t hate their relationship, but it felt (a) like instalove and (b) it felt (to me) like it did the rest of the novel a disservice.
Even so, absolutely read this book. It’s so well done and I’ll be looking for Kristin Russell’s next book.