Horse lovers rejoice, for the equestrian themes and undertones are abundant—as well as educational. Prior to this story, this reader knew absolutely nothing about the wild horses that roam the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. (Though Hoyle’s first book took place in the same location, this book brings the setting to life in an entirely different way.)
The weather also becomes a sort of additional character, as the nuances of riding out a severe hurricane forms an integral part of the plot. Readers who’ve never lived near hurricane-affected coastlines, or experienced a related mass-evacuation, are in for a fascinating experience.
Though this is a stand-alone, there are subtle ties to Hoyle’s 2017 debut: The Thing with Feathers. Instead of nods to Emily Dickenson, Meet the Sky weaves in threads from the works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Each chapter begins with a cleverly fitting quote from the famed British poet, and there is some discussion within the story itself—particularly between Sophie and her best friend. Observant previous readers may want to keep an eye out for an appearance from Emilie and her service dog, Hitch. (As it turns out, Sophie and Emilie attend the same high school.)
Sophie was a bit harder to connect with than the heroine from Hoyle’s debut. She’s bitter, pessimistic, overly judgmental, and a notable control freak. There are several justifiable reasons for this, however. (Her sister has a traumatic brain injury from a car wreck—which drove her father to first alcoholism, and then to abandon her family. Her overworked mother is barely getting by, and Sophie is burning her candle at both ends trying to compensate for all the brokenness around her. Yet at the same time, she’s still clinging to her dream of becoming a veterinarian.) Needless to say, the setup leaves plenty of room for growth in Sophie. And in terms of character development, Hoyle delivers.
The conflict with Finn sometimes felt a touch contrived.
So, the guy disappeared in the middle of Sophie’s Freshman year, leaving Sophie high and dry at a school dance (and inadvertently compounding her abandonment issues.) She’s now a high school Senior, who seems overly determined to nurse a grudge when Finn suddenly resurfaces. Finn actually has a solid excuse for his vanishing act years earlier—which doubles as justification for his devil-may-care surfer-boy attitude. But as direct as Sophie is, she doesn’t bother confronting or questioning him on the presumed offense until they’ve been thrown together in a dangerous predicament. And once they finally get that part sorted, they go their separate ways for a while—which seemed to neutralize the chemistry to some degree.
Meet the Sky presents a unique setting, a harrowing situation, and an opposites-attract romance that moves organically within the plot rather than overwhelming it. The story is one of love, loss, and reclamation—of all the things in life that are outside our control, and the attitudes that aren’t.