Title: Under a Painted Sky
Authors: Stacey Lee
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Western, Romance
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (March 17, 2015)
Age Range: 12+
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
Buy at: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | iBooks
Missouri 1849, Samantha’s life and plans are interrupted and terribly diverted after a series of misfortunes occur. Annamae, a slave, helps Samantha run away, both disguised as the boys Sammy and Andy. Their adventure on the trail brings them closer together as friends, and they also discover new friends in a group of cowboys also traveling to California. Stacey Lee’s debut novel is a beautiful historical fiction for all that shows the beauty of friendship.
I normally don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but after reading this novel, it’s so good that I am looking forward to more novels like these on shelves at the library.
For one thing, I love the diversity. Samantha and Annamae make lots of references to their diverse pasts. For Samantha, she often thinks back to her Chinese roots, and Andy shares tidbits out of her life as a slave and is very religious. Historically, it doesn’t provide much, but it’s the character’s pasts provide the authenticity.
The novel discreetly addresses issues of that age and today’s age about race, and sex. The whole reason Samantha has to run away is because she knows that the law won’t be fair to her as a Chinese girl. And on the trail, Samantha and Annamae attract a lot of attention just being Chinese and Black, so it’s better when they travel around as boys.
“Does killing a man who tried to rape me count as murder? For me, it probably does. The law in Missouri in this year of our Lord 1849 does not sympathize with a Chinaman’s daughter.”
“You miss being a girl?” I ask her. “Not as much as I thought I would. Just feels like when I’m being a boy, I can cut a wider path.”
“I don’t understand the constant need to prove one’s manhood, as if it is always on the verge of slipping away. We never need to prove our womanhood.”
I also relate a lot to Samantha’s musical roots because I play the clarinet. It’s fun to read about a character that feels music move and affect them in such a beautiful way. Also, many beautiful and wacky scenes in this novel come around while Samantha is playing her violin.
“My father said that artists see the worl differently than nomal people. I see a tree where you might see a collection of lines, shapes, and shadows.”
“My showmanship only comes out when I hold the violin—with Lady Tin-Yin in my arms, I don’t care who watches. A peace comes over me, something I call my violin calm.”
Characters like Samantha and Annamae stand out, but some later characters that come in lack a lot of color and interest which is why I gave this book an 8/10. The character that Samantha falls in love with later (yes there’s romance) is just a bland quiet poop head. (sorry I don’t like him but maybe you will D: )Samantha and Annamae are strong independent characters whom I thought didn’t need any of the romance in this novel.
I recommend this novel for everyone, especially for girls, because its speaks out in volumes about female empowerment using characters like Samantha and Annamae. What’s even more awesome is that even though there’s not a lot of gold diggin’ in this novel, I feel like I dug myself a precious little nugget discovering this novel at my library. This book is surprisingly not very well known but it’s still one of the best quality reads.
Happy Valentines Day! I hope you guys recently fell in love with a book just like I did with this novel! 😀 ❤