Under a Painted Sky

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. This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.


Eliana’s Opinion:

3 Stars

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but I am so glad I picked this book up. This novel was fun and emotional, it provided diversity within the young adult genre that is getting harder to find nowadays.

On the run from the law after a series of events that sent Sam’s world reeling, she starts her journey on the Oregon Trail. Traveling is rough when you’re a wanted Chinese-American girl and an African-American slave runaway. Luckily the girls encounter a rag tag group of cowboys that help them navigate the trail mostly unscathed. The Oregon Trail is not something I’m familiar with so I’m not sure how accurate of a portrayal this rough and tumble adventure was but I thought it was both honest and sweet.

Now the beginning was a little rushed but nonetheless very exciting. Sam was not the traditional clichéd badass, she didn’t wield a gun with precision or fight off armed bandits single-handedly but she was very strong in her own way. She forged on even after the loss of her father and despite the obstacles that stood in her way. The novel was filled with interesting diverse strong characters, all with their own unique backgrounds, all with their own valuable traits and faults.

This novel had an almost perfect balance between friendship, love and adventure. I was enamoured with the rough bunch of cowboys exploring the plains and traveling towards a better future. Friendship is the core of this novel; the bond forged between Annamae and Samantha is the driving force behind this book. They looked out for each other, fought for each other and sacrificed to be able to stay together. This book is worth reading for no other reasoning then watching that friendship evolve. Having said all this and while I am always cheering on good character development I would have like a little more action. If you’re looking for a light historical fiction novel I would definitely recommend you pick this book up and curl up for an enjoyable read.



5 thoughts on “Under a Painted Sky

  1. Lately, I’ve been really interested in reading books with Asian protagonists (there’s finally been more in ya). And I’m currently reading Ru and plan to pick up Of Metal and Wishes before it’s due back to the library, both feature girls with some Asian in them. Under a Painted Sky sounds really interesting though, especially since I love historical fiction. 🙂 Have you read any of Eva Ibbotson’s historical fiction/romance. Now I read a lot of adult historical fiction, but I do remember reading her books in my early teens and enjoying them!

    1. Honestly historical fiction has never been a genre I’ve read a lot of, besides this novel I think the last historical novel I read was Outlander. I have never read any of her books but I will definitely check them out now. Thanks for the recommendation!

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