I kinda had a strange experience with Under a Painted Sky. I had heard good things about it, so I was excited when I got a stop on the blog tour. What’s funny is that I must have been thinking about another book (or had temporary amnesia), because when I started reading Samantha and Annamae’s story I had no idea what was going on. I can’t even remember what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I got. But that’s not a bad thing. Surprises are fun. Sometimes. I’m more concerned about the probable amnesia.
Once I got over the disorientation, I enjoyed the story. I don’t think I’ve read anything like it before. Two fugitive young women on the road (trail)? Heading to California (pretending to be gold-rushers) alone with no supplies or preparations (or plans, really). Annamae (Andy) was pretty awesome from the start, but Samantha (Sammy) was quite the wimp, and she kinda annoyed me. I had some serious doubts that Sammy would make it through the first day, much less all the way to California. But (of course) a huge part of the story was how much she changed. And by the end of the book I liked her quite a bit. Respected her, even.
Under a Painted Sky is one of those books that moves forward sporadically. What I mean is that there are super-exciting parts alternating with super boring parts. Now that I think about it, I suppose travelling across the country on the trail to California on horseback would be like that. Lots and lots of boring, flat prairie interspersed with encounters with wild animals and rushing rapids. So the boring parts are necessary. If you get bored, stick with it. It’ll be worth it.
I’ll admit that for three-quarters of Under a Painted Sky I was ready to give it a Leave It rating. I know that sounds odd considering what I’ve said to this point. The thing is, I wasn’t happy with where the story was going. I didn’t like how I thought it would end. I mean, I had hoped it would end a certain way, but it didn’t seem to be going in that direction, so I was kinda annoyed. But Stacey made it all better. I guess it says something about Andy and Sammy that I cared so much that I was about to tell people not to read the book only because I didn’t like what was happening to them. I wouldn’t say it was a happy ending, but I was content with it. It did seem widely open-ended. But I hope there’s not a sequel. I like imagining what’s next for Andy, Sammy, and the boys for myself.
P.S. For those of you who have been asking for more books written for adults, I have to say that while Under a Painted Sky is considered young adult, it doesn’t read like your typical young adult novel. The only thing that really makes it young adult, in my opinion, is that the two main characters are young adults.
Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, raises children, and writes YA fiction.