JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS, by Melissa Sarino, Alfred A. Knopf


Can you still have a home if you don’t have a house?

Always think in threes and you’ll never fall, Cora’s father told her when she was a little girl. Two feet, one hand. Two hands, one foot. That was all Cora needed to know to climb the trees of Brooklyn.

But now Cora is a middle schooler, a big sister, and homeless. Her mother is trying to hold the family together after her father’s death, and Cora must look after her sister, Adare, who’s just different, their mother insists. Quick to smile, Adare hates wearing shoes, rarely speaks, and appears untroubled by the question Cora can’t help but ask: How will she find a place to call home?

After their room at the shelter is ransacked, Cora’s mother looks to an old friend for help, and Cora finally finds what she has been looking for: Ailanthus altissima, the “tree of heaven,” which can grow in even the worst conditions. It sets her on a path to discover a deeper truth about where she really belongs.

Out June 5th, 2018


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Everyone wants to belong, belong to a group, belong to a family, belong to a community, belong to a love–belong in this sense meaning: be important to someone special in a person’s life.

Cora is no different.

Her life has been turned on its head leaving her to feel lost, without a home and a sense of belonging.  Being homeless as a child is incredibly unsettling as Cora demonstrates often in the story.  She wishes for more as one would.

The author has an incredible wistful voice and with this talent the reader is able to get close to Cora and feel, hurt, fear and joy.  At times, the author writes about deep and involved issues within society, such as acceptance and understanding or the lack thereof.

As Cora’s life keeps morphing, drawing her into community and social groups,  her sister’s condition brings to light the cruelty and judging of others, and the way her little sister, Adare, is perceived by these others causes Cora a lot of distress.

There’s overtures of what stability means to a child, from a child’s perspective, what family should mean and how to cope with what the world has given.

I gave this book:




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