Sixteen-year-old Morgan lives in a hick town in the middle of Nebraska. College is two years away. Her mom was killed in a car accident when she was three, her dad drinks, and her stepmom is a non-entity. Her boyfriend Derek is boring and her coworker Rob has a very cute butt that she can’t stop staring at. Then there’s the kiss she shared with her classmate Tessa…
But when Morgan discovers that the one person in the world she trusted most has kept a devastating secret from her, Morgan must redefine her life and herself.
Title: The Sky Always Hears Me (And The Hills Don’t Mind)
Author: Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Category: Young Adult
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Length: 288 pages
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Themes: GLBT, Child Abuse, Alcoholism, Small-town claustrophobia
POV: First Person
Reviewer: Nick Morgan
I read this book after finishing One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak and The Shifter by Janice Hardy, so it was a bit of a change. One of the best parts of the book is the fantastic voice. Morgan sounds exactly like a small town teenager, and the supporting characters felt very authentic, as well. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve never been a teenage girl, but I did find the constant talk about cute butts a bit much. On the other hand, some very frank discussion of dick (size) seemed to fit the characters quite well.
The romantic angle was a major part of the book, and it was very well done. Morgan’s boyfriend Derek was, for once, not a total asshole, and seemed to really like her, and Morgan’s feelings towards him were completely believable. Her crush on her coworker Rob was similarly balanced feelings-wise, and I had no trouble at all accepting the conflict between those feelings. It made for a much less annoying romance plot than I have found in other similar stories. It also had none of the “twoo luv 4evr” aspect that often comes up in YA. That has it’s place, of course, but it was refreshing to see something a little more subtle, and see raging hormones that didn’t concentrate on a perfect DLI who you know the character will end up with.
Morgan’s family life was also well-constructed. A troubled family life is no uncommon thing in YA, but Morgan’s alcoholic father and fade-into-the-walls stepmother were not walking cliches. Her father had some redeeming qualities, although he did not quite achieve redemption. Her step-mom stepped up more and more as the novel wore on. Her two brothers acted like younger brothers, with that awkward combo of love and crippling embarrassment that younger brothers so often display.
The one issue I had was with Morgan’s grandma. Although there was some explanation as the plot unfolded, she seemed just a bit too perfect of a support-system, especially early in the book. I also wished her relationship with Morgan had been explored more deeply, and grown a little more, rather than having just a little hiccup. It wasn’t a total waste, though.
The book had quite a bit going on, with several plots inter-twined with each other. I wish they had interacted a bit more deeply, but I suppose that’s a lot to ask in 288 pages. There were several lovely complications which I won’t spoil here, and they mostly contributed to the realism and depth of the story and Morgan’s character.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn’t quite love it, and I felt it had more potential than it lived up to, but I definitely don’t regret reading it, and I would buy it again if I had the choice.
Conclusion: 79/100 (Pretty good, but not world-rocking)
Premise: 8/10 (Normal but well-executed)
Plot: 8/10 (Only occasionally predictable)
Setting: 7/10 (Leaves a lot to the imagination)
Main Character: 8/10 (Flip-floppy, but believably)
Romance Sub-plot 8/10 (Complex, but nuanced)
Love Interest(s) 6/10 (A bit stock, but believable)
Supporting Characters: 9/10 (Well-defined and had their own stories)
Writing: 8/10 (Good, but not brilliant)
Themes: 8/10 (Occasional cliche)
Resolution: 9/10 (Bittersweet and open-ended)
Buy Or Borrow: Worth the money