It’s not often that a western captures my attention. But this one did. Two girls posing as boys and add the Oregon trail with hot cowboys…HELLO!
Let’s take a look at Under A Painted Sky!
- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
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.
My Review: Under A Painted Sky starts off with the death of Sammantha’s father’s, a Chinese shop owner trying to make a life for them in the wild west. After his untimely death Samantha is on her own, only to find that she has to defend herself from a ruthless man that ends in his death. In comes Annamae, a slave who doesn’t hesitate to help. The girls flee town, because who wants to hang for murder? They hitch a ride on the OregonTrail but with such a lawless, dangerous world they disguise themselves as boys, Andy and Sam. It doesn’t take them much time to join up with 3 cowboys, swoon worthy cowboys! They head out racing against the law and bands of thieves to make it out west.
First off, Stacey created a wonderful world full of diverse characters. It was a refreshing read to have characters of different ethnicities mingle together throughout the book. From a Chinese girl, a slave girl, a Mexican vaquero…each character brought spirit throughout the adventure. Not only do they come upon Scottish and french characters but runaway slaves as well. It brought realism into the brutal world of the wild west. The west was diverse place with many people from across the country and world trying to find their place, whether that’s gold or freedom. How many times have readers waited for such diverse characters? I know I have been one of them so that’s why this book reached my heart. Stacey weaved wonderful characters together to make a heartwarming adventure in the Wild West.
From the moment I was introduce to Sammantha I loved her. A Chinese girl in a world full of prejudice, she never let it take her down. She was strong and independent. Even when she cut her waist length hair short, she took every opportunity to be like a boy. It didn’t matter it took her Femininity away. Sam was the heart of the story, trying to see her father’s dream of living out west in California come to be. She cared for everyone, putting their needs first. If Sam was the heart of the story Andy was the strength. She was always there to help Sam stay incognito as a boy, reminding her that they needed to act like boys. When they meet up with the 3 cowboys, Andy never holds back her thoughts or shies away. And boy does the fun start when the cowboys appear.
These cowboys help the girls on a dangerous mission to California. Stampedes, snakes and a gang of thieves block their path to gold rush paradise. Cay is the ladies man while West is a silent, keep to himself fellow. He definitely was intriguing and took interest right away to Sam. Peety was the horse loving vaquero who brought humor and aw moments throughout the book. I just loved his character and his passion for his horses. It was wonderful that Stacey had him speak spanish which Sam translated. This bought realism to the book and the world. The whole “do they know we’re boys or not?” was great between Sam and Andy. Because that’s what I kept thinking too! Stacey keeps the humor in a much needed dangerous world with the interaction of the entire group.
What I found most intriguing was the friendship between Sam and Andy. Sure there was a romance that was to die for but the strength of the book was the friendship. Stacey did a wonderful job creating chemistry between the two that It made me wantto be their friends as well! The passion they had for each other was heartwarming.
Stacey’s writing proved superb with her historical setting and diverse plot. The description vividly put me in the story, on a horse in the wild west. Every action scene, every bump in the road they came upon made my heart race. The historical accuracy to the camps and wagon trails portrays a realistic world. I never much thought of westerns books but Stacey won me over. I’m a fan!
Should you read it? YES! This is the YA Western I never knew I wanted but greatly needed. I devoured every page. It’s a refreshingly great read with such vivid historical accuracy. I can see schools putting this on their reading list for students. I highly recommend this read
Until next time!