Quick review for a quick read. Upon reflection, I think I’ll give this around the same rating as the last book. It was a thorough, emotional read; Jessica Hawkins did an excellent job of getting into the emotional roughness and realistic tensions of the characters given the multiple difficult situations and aspects this book tackles. Yet, emerging from the experience of this book as a whole – I still feel frustrated for multiple reasons. The pacing in this book felt a bit more sluggish than the first book, but in other notes…I’ll give you the rundown of events and my thoughts as I went through this story collectively.
“Somebody Else’s Sky” starts a bit after the events of “Something in the Way,” with Manning in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and Lake struggling to move forward with her life in the aftermath of events. The two struggle with both their internal demons and outer, living aspects of a life they didn’t choose for themselves. Manning pines for Lake, but struggles with the fear and regret tied to his family’s history, and the public perception of being attracted to Lake with respect to the differences in their ages and his…um…thoughts about her. (I know this is supposed to be a forbidden romance, and mentally I’m raging for so many reasons here, but bear with me.) Lake is a teenage girl trying to live her life as best she can – planning her future, trying her hand at relationships, and waiting for the day she turns 18. She thinks that once she turns 18 that she could truly be “with” Manning.
Things become more complicated once Manning is released from prison for good behavior (though events happen to challenge that release). Manning returns to Lake’s family life, but now as a man involved in a romantic relationship with Lake’s older sister Tiffany. Lake is in a conflicting relationship with her longtime best male “friend”, who wants more than just friendship with her. Some of the same struggles the characters endured in the last book rear their ugly head in this one – including Lake and Tiffany’s controlling father and Tiffany’s insecurities at being less accomplished than Lake. Lake attempts to push the relationship into the light, but Manning resists – wanting a more stable life following his incarceration. There were a few details to this that I had to suspend my disbelief on (I honestly wonder if Lake’s father can keep his promise to Manning regarding the record expunge, but I suppose that may be something they tackle in the next book). The majority of this novel was plain angst when it came down to the back and forth between Lake and Manning wanting to be with each other.
I’ll give credit to Hawkins for making “Somebody Else’s Sky” realistic for the fears and realizations of the characters, and I’m also glad it doesn’t try to cut corners on the moral conflict just to push the characters in a relationship together. However, so much of the novel was told (and not shown) for emotion, which hindered the pacing. Also…did I mention this novel had a lot of angst? =/ Lake and Manning often acted in ways that drove me up the wall, but I still felt invested enough to follow their respective stories, particularly for their own self-awareness when facing the reality around them.
This book didn’t end on a cliffhanger as the last novel did, but it leaves things open for the next few books in the series. I’m interested enough to see what happens, though there are enough familiar tropes and rehashings here that left me wanting more from the overarching story. Hopefully the next two novels will be a better experience.
Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.