Title: The Weight of the Sky
Author: Caroline Schley
Published: May 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Don’t like it
Speak meets Gossip Girl in this searing contemporary Young Adult novel where the most courageous three words a teenage girl will ever have to say are, “I need help.”
But fifteen-year-old Chris Miller is far from courageous. She does nothing when her best friend is sent to juvenile detention for a crime Chris knows she didn’t commit. She stays quiet as her mother steamrolls her into a scholarship program at St. Catherine’s Prep for her sophomore year. She acquiesces when her new friends introduce ‘drinkstagram’ at their sleepovers. Chris understands that quiet insecurity isn’t the most valiant approach to life, but it gets her through the day unscathed. Until she’s sexually assaulted.
In the aftermath, Chris’s fragile coping mechanisms crumble, alongside her grades and her tenuous happiness. When Chris is forced to volunteer at an afterschool program to maintain her scholarship, she finds herself catapulted back to the very neighborhood she has been struggling to escape. When her family is thrust into the crosshairs of a gang war, she discovers just how much damage her silence can cause. Ultimately, she must decide if she will continue to stay quiet as others call the shots and remain a victim, or if she can forge the strength to stand up, declare the truth and call herself a survivor.
Trigger Warning: This story contains content that may be sensitive for some readers including sexual assault and drug/alcohol consumption
Thank you Caroline Schley and Xpresso Tours for an eARC of The Weight of the Sky in exchange for an honest review.
Chris feels like her life isn’t hers to live out, but she is pressured to pursue a life her mom felt cheated out of. Even when Chris tries to find some sense of identity by trying to find out about her nonexistent dad, her mom shuts down the topic every time. Her mom refuses to let their income status pave the way for Chris’s life, so she constantly drills into her daughter’s head a drive to work hard and look for opportunities. When one such opportunity presents itself, Chris is plucked from her public school characterized by drugs and gangs and enrolled in an elite private school on a full scholarship. While Chris feels like the only reason she’s there is to help her on her way to her mom’s dream of her being a doctor, she does quickly find herself welcomed into a group of girls, going to sleepovers, parties, talking about boys, etc. She struggles with feeling like an outsider because of their stark differences in socioeconomic classes, but the girls don’t seem to see this as a problem. Even though Chris feels like she has to lie to her mom frequently, she finally feels included and happy.
Until the unthinkable happens.
Suddenly Chris feels like she doesn’t have anyone. Her days are filled with swirling emotions from trauma, the people she called her friends don’t believe her, and she quickly finds herself failing her classes do to a lack of desire.
Schley writes a raw story about sexual assault and trauma. There is no way you can read Chris’s story without feeling your heart pulling for her in a puddle of empathy. As you find yourself immersed in Schley’s writing, you will feel a part of the story, mourning with Chris, chiding every lie, cheering for her as she rebuilds confidence, feeling her emotional rollercoaster as she learns about who she is.
I am a writer, teacher and outdoor enthusiast, always looking for a new adventure.
Originally from New York City, I have also lived in China, New Zealand and Spain. I’m on a constant quest for the best food and views in the world. Some of my favorite places are the GR 221 in Mallorca, the top floor of the Musee D’Orsay in Paris and the window seat on a Fifth Avenue bus in Manhattan.
I’m have received comprehensive work training in a large variety of fields including political street canvassing, freelance writing, white water rafting, latte making, childcare and secondary science education.
I have an undergraduate Magna Cum Laude degree in Environmental Science with a focus in Hydrology from CU-Boulder and a graduate degree in Secondary Science Education from NYU. I’ve served as an NSTA New Teacher Fellow, a Jhumpki Basu Fellow and participated in the Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots Training program.
I’ve just completed my first YA contemporary manuscript and I’m seeking agent and publisher representation.
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