I will never get tired of Stacey Lee – like why had I never read Under a Painted Sky before?! These are the stories I wish I had read as a child growing up.
Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.
Everything I have read/listened to from Stacey Lee has been such a pleasure. I found out that Under a Painted Sky is her debut and wow – stunning. I am astounded because it is just so fantastic. (Am I surprised? At this point, I shouldn’t be). Lee hooks us in a heart stopping way and she brings up really interesting conversations in this book about interracial relationships and the prejudices against Chinese Americans.
Having listened to Outrun the Moon I knew that Lee’s discussions about the prejudices and hostile treatment against Chinese Americans would be emotional and moving, but Lee introduces depth to these conversations. She asks us to look at these interracial relationships and partnerships. By pairing Sammy and Andy together, we are able to look at the privileges Sammy has as a Chinese American over Andy.
They are able to talk about their differing levels of power and it is brought up at such a great age – in terms of Sammy’s age. She is thrown out of the pan and into the flames quickly – always having to overcome a different challenge. But they test her knowledge of herself and self-confidence. I adored their alliance and the way it turned into a friendship. Both of them were resilient and brave, inspiring hope and gushy emotions within my own heart.
Go check out Under a Painted Sky on Goodreads and ever other Stacey Lee book.