From award-winning author McCall Hoyle comes a new young adult novel, Meet the Sky, a story of love, letting go, and the unstoppable power of nature. It all started with the accident. The one that caused Sophie’s dad to walk out of her life. The one that left Sophie’s older sister, Meredith, barely able to walk at all. With nothing but pain in her past, all Sophie wants is to plan for the future—keep the family business running, get accepted to veterinary school, and protect her mom and sister from another disaster. But when a hurricane forms off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and heads right toward their island, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control. After she gets separated from her family during the evacuation, Sophie finds herself trapped on the island with the last person she’d have chosen—the reckless and wild Finn Sanders, who broke her heart freshman year. As they struggle to find safety, Sophie learns that Finn has suffered his own heartbreak; but instead of playing it safe, Finn’s become the kind of guy who goes surfing in the eye of the hurricane. He may be the perfect person to remind Sophie how to embrace life again, but only if their newfound friendship can survive the storm.
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When a hurricane is coming for the Outer Banks, they will need to evacuate. Sophie takes the truck which is need of repairs that her mother doesn't know about while her mother and sister take the other car and the horses. They are set to meet on the mainland. However, those car repairs were really needed- and Sophie ends up stranded with her former huge crush, Finn, who had also stood her up for a dance years ago.
As Sophie and Finn survive together and begin to talk, they discuss their grief and philosophies on how they choose to live their lives. With beautiful thoughts/conversations and a dangerous, survival situation, this book is absolutely captivating. I was completely caught up in Sophie's life and curious about Finn's. However, Sophie- as the main character- is definitely the stand-out, and I absolutely adored her.
Rising to the challenges, dealing with problems, and forging her own way, Sophie is a brave and strong character that you can easily love. As such, this book was just fantastic, and a really quick read. The writing flows perfectly and captures it all so well. While most of this is a character study, the added danger of surviving the hurricane gives it some extra suspense and just something extra. I highly recommend for anyone who loves contemporary YA.
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.