Title: As Big as the Sky
Author: Amy Aislin
Publisher: MLR Press
Release Date: August 4, 2017
Page Count: 140
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Sam wants nothing to do with his irresponsible, sarcastic neighbor…or does he?
Sam McAuley is having a rough start to the summer: Not only is he being sued, but the new guy running the animal rehabilitation center next door has no idea what he’s doing and his runaway chickens constantly end up in Sam’s pristine yard.
Everything is temporary for Bo Novak. For as long as he can remember, it’s been one town to the next, one school to the next, one job to the next. Even his current job—running his sister’s animal rehab center while she’s away on a four-month leave—is temporary. And he does know what he’s doing, thank you very much. Sure, things don’t always run smoothly, but the stick-in-the-mud next door could be a little nicer about it.
One overheard conversation, an olive branch, and a baseball game might show these guys that being at odds isn’t really what they want, and that what they want might just be each other.
Premise of the book is Sam is renting the house next to Big Sky Animal Sanctuary. He’s got his gardens, he’s got his problems and the loose animals next door are only one small part.
Bo is holding down the fort for his sister while she’s away at a four-month training on running an animal sanctuary. He’s put his job in Ottawa on hold, his friends haven’t called, and his sister doesn’t trust him even though he’s done this before. To top things off, one evil rooster insists on getting into Sam’s gardens. What was supposed to be a summer building friendships and feeling helpful, is turning out to be just the opposite.
This book just flowed for me – from the first page and Sam’s hollering at Bo to get his chicken out of the garden, to feeling Bo’s utter dejection at his whole situation (OMGosh! That bit was so well written! It made me want to cry!), to the fledgling friendship and eventually evolving into more. Their relationship does move along lickety-split (I think the book is novella length?) and it just skirts the edges of being insta-love.
A couple of distractions for me:
Sam is renting temporarily and he’s got fully grown gardens upscale enough for a national publication? Ah, no. Gardens show-worthy enough for a magazine or garden tour take years to develop and grow, not months. And this isn’t including the cost to obtain the plants, fertilizer, etc. Sam wouldn’t have been plunking down that kind of cash on a garden given his personal situation (trying to avoid spoilers).
Roosters (chickens in general) have some of the sharpest eyesight around. There is no “sneaking” up on a chicken unless it’s gone to roost. And I speak from experience here.
Ending and resolution felt a bit rushed and that could again be due to the length of the book.
Those tidbits off my chest, a final kudos to round out my review – Bo and Laura’s (the sister) relationship was a very refreshing change from Girl Bestie “Tell me EVERYTHING!” trope. Laura didn’t trust Bo, which is something Bo desperately wanted to prove to Laura that he was. I thought the whole sibling dynamic was well written and added some great character building that I enjoyed reading.
Ultimately, this was a delightful story and one I would read again.