Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Review: Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood

Iris Dancy’s free-spirited mum has left for Tunisia, her dad’s rarely sober and her brother’s determined to fight anyone with a pair of fists.

When a family of travellers move into the overgrown paddock overnight, her dad looks set to finally lose it. Gypsies are parasites he says, but Iris is intrigued. As her dad plans to evict the travelling family, Iris makes friends with their teenage son. Trick Deran is a bare knuckle boxer who says he’s done with fighting, but is he telling the truth?

When tools go missing from the shed, the travellers are the first suspects. Iris’s brother, Sam, warns her to stay away from Trick; he’s dangerous, but Iris can no longer blindly follow her brother’s advice. He’s got secrets of his own, and she’s not sure he can be trusted himself.

Infinite Sky is a family story about betrayal and loyalty, and love.

Infinite Sky was a little different from what I expected. Mainly because the main characters were so young – thirteen, to be exact. But despite that, their wisdom is incredible. I loved the genuine feel of this book. It’s the kind of book that really speaks to you – something you can easily believe and maybe even relate to in some ways. There’s a sort of innocence to this book, while at the same time you can see the undercurrents of more serious issues.

Infinite Sky follows Iris Dancy, a thirteen-year-old girl living in the countryside with her older brother and father. Her mother has just left them a while back, and the three of them are still trying to figure out life without her. A family of gypsies decides to stay next to their farm for a while, and that’s where the story begins. Iris meets Trick, a gypsy boy who shares the sense of adventure that she has. Iris and Trick soon become close friends, to the horror of Iris’ brother Sam, and her father.

Even though Iris is only thirteen, she has a clear sense of right and wrong, and she stands up for what she believes in. She knows that the gypsies are doing no harm to their family, so she has no problem with a little company next door. Her father takes her goodness for naivety, though, but Iris doesn’t care. She’s curious about Trick and no one can stop her from finding out more about him. I really connected with Iris in this book. I could feel what she was going through – her joy when she was with Trick, her anger after her best friend betrayed her, her anxiety about Sam. Iris doesn’t hold anything back, and she’s a really open person. I really liked that about her. Her love for her brother is admirable, and it was great to see how she could cheer him up when he was mad, and even knock some sense into him sometimes.

Trick, short for Patrick, is the son of the gypsy family next door to Iris. He has a bunch of little sisters, and helps his mom take care of them during the day. He’s a real help to his mom, and he’s very hard working. But sometimes he just needs a break, and that’s what Iris can give him. Trick is equally intrigued by Iris, and soon grows quite attached to her. I kind of have mixed feelings about Trick. I feel sorry for him because of his past, as well as the fact that Sam and his friends take every opportunity to bully him. But Trick makes a huge mistake at a point, something he can never take back. And I’m not sure what to think about that. He does have a great sense of loyalty, though, and I loved how protective he was of Iris.

Sam, Iris’ brother, is a really complex character. He’s gotten in with some bad people, and broken off an amazing friendship with someone he’s known since he was a little boy. Sam gives in to peer pressure a lot of times in this book, and that’s something that we can relate to, since I’m sure we’ve all done that at some point. But Sam gets in over his head, and the consequences of his actions are unimaginable. Sam’s mood changes really quickly, and I could never tell when he was honestly happy or just pretending. He’s a great artist, and I love the fact that he painted a mural for Iris on her wall because she asked him to. Sam really could be a great brother to her at times, and he’s also really protective of her. I just wish he hadn’t taken the wrong path, though.

Infinite Sky is set in the UK, and the characters are all Irish. That makes a huge difference in the style of this novel, especially because it’s set in the countryside. Words like ‘owt’ and ‘bog’ kept popping up, and I had no idea what they were! It’s a nice change, though, reading something from a different perspective. It has a very fresh feel to it.

Some parts of this book are quite heartbreaking, while others make you feel all warm inside. Infinite Sky does have some serious undertones, and I think the overall message of this book is amazing. The pacing is perfect; I just couldn’t stop turning the pages. Infinite Sky is an amazing debut from C.J. Flood, and I’m now definitely on the lookout for new books by her!

*Thank you to C.J. Flood for providing an ARC for review*

Rating: 4/5

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