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Island Eyes, Island Skies Paperback – January 5, 2011
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"I almost gave this book five stars, I really did. I love how Richard Levine writes. . . with an innate understanding of how kids think. . . Levine takes a hard subject--death of a loved one--and entwines it in a tale that is mostly comic and fun, yet still makes you think." Nikki Bennett, Nik's Picks blog, March 14, 2013
"Island Eyes, Island Skies is an unusual coming-of-age book for teen readers, with well-developed characters. . . The writing is powerful and well-crafted, and keeps the reader engaged throughout." Shelly Feit, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews, Feb/Mar 2013
"This bittersweet story, told in distinct various voices. . . will be a sure hit with fans of Paula Danziger and Judy Blume titles. . . Memorable, three-dimensional characters, and an intense, engaging plot makes this a great choice for middle school students." -- Debby Gold, Jewish Book World Magazine (January 23, 2012)
"Island Eyes, Island Skies is a heartwarming, touching story about life, connections, and how two friends cope with life's curveballs. . . Author Richard Levine has created strong, palpable characters in D.C. and Rob. . . Levine's writing is straightforward and moving." -- Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader (June 15, 2012)
". . . a very sweet coming-of-age story for middle readers looking to bridge the gap into YA literature. . . so nice to see two kids just acting like kids. . . a very engaging read." Christi Aldellizzi, christitheteenlibrarian.blogspot.com, March 4, 2013
"It reminded me of a much mellower version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. . . heart-breaking, humorous, and speaks to and touches the reader in unexpected ways." -- Beth Holian, Tween Book Blog (November 6, 2012)
5 STARS, ". . . a touching story about friendship, life and two friends coping with the tragedies that come their way. I would recommend this book to teens and adults alike." -- Jody Joy, Jody's Book Reviews & Giveaways (January 3, 2013)
About the Author
Richard Levine grew up on Long Island and attended Vassar College and New York Medical College. He practiced Diagnostic Radiology for many years in northern New Jersey, where he still lives with his wife and two daughters.
Top customer reviews
D.C. Blau and her family live in New Wellington but move to Old Westwood. It is summer in Long Island and D.C. goes to party at her Cousin Becky's house. D.C. feels like the too tall out of town girl, and wears a bright yellow shirt with a rainbow lollipop on it, which makes her stand out that much more.
While at her Cousins party, she tells her Cousin Becky she thinks Rob is cute. Rob a very shy bashful dwarf, which D.C. calls all of the boys at the party, but unlike all the other dwarfs Rob is allot quitter that the other dwarfs that at the party. While D.C. is in the bathroom everyone spreads the word (via her Cousin), that D.C. likes Rob.
Rob and D.C. end up dancing at the party. When the party ends, they promise to meet up again over the summer. However, tragedies in both families make this almost impossible for them to get together.
As the new school year begins, their paths continue to cross and a friendship begins to ensue, that start sharing school projects, nature walks. As the two develop a friendship, tragic and joyous similarities in their lives reveal themselves.
Levine writes this in the first person narratives, alternating between D.C. and Rob. However, as the story develops a few other narratives enter the picture as the story progresses. This is a touching story about friendship, life and two friends coping with the tragedies that come their way. I would recommend this book to teens and adults alike.
I would like to thank Richard for giving me the opportunity to read and review his book. I would also like to thank him for sending me a book to giveaway to my readers.
D.C. Blau is a twelve-year-old girl. She and Tommy, her little brother, have recently moved into town with their dad and very pregnant mother. Rob Cameron is also in seventh grade and also has a younger sibling - a six year old sister named Mattie. The two meet when Becky, D.C.'s cousin introduces them by announcing to Rob that D.C. thinks he's cute, but they don't actually talk or begin to develop their friendship until they meet again at school. As the two develop their friendship, tragic and joyous similarities in their lives reveal themselves. Their unconditional acceptance of one another and unfettered relationship helps them move through the events and reflect on life together.
The story moves in waves, from the ordinary events of summer holiday where D.C. and Rob are with their families, or playing ball and hanging out with friends to shocking tragedies, like the deaths of Rob's father or D.C.'s mother's miscarriage. But as life continues in its normalcy, there are also more brushes with fate and tragedies that D.C. and Rob must face and move past.
Author Richard Levine has created strong, palpable characters in D.C. and Rob, who are your average pre-teens interested in movies, texting, sports, and junk food; they are also smart, savvy and sociable. D.C for example, loves playing with words, poetry and she and Rob fall in and out of role-playing situations that include WW2 battles and Guinevere and a knight.
Levine presents the story through first person narratives, alternating mainly between D.C. and Rob, but also including some other character's voices as the story develops. For the most part, this technique effectively allows the character's thoughts and feelings to be revealed in the character's own unique voice, thereby drawing stronger parallels and connections between their lives and personalities. For example, Rob is always writing mental "headliners" like: "Six-Year-Old Digs to China, Greets Horned Look-A-Like Half Way Down," for imaginary media sources, and he always makes a note of the message tee-shirts that D.C. wears "Life's a Mountain You Climb Backwards."
Levine keeps the reader involved in the story as he plays with the balance of beautiful and carefree aspects in D.C. and Rob's lives with hard-hitting aspects of life. Levine also can contrast the way that different characters deal with their grief using his changing perspectives. D.C describes her mother's reaction to her miscarriage: "She's not combing her hair, and I'm not even sure she's washing herself or brushing her teeth. When I bring up food for her, she barely acknowledge me and eats almost nothing." Rob describes his own experience after his father dies: "I miss my dad more than ever. Since his death, I feel like I've become almost free-floating."
In the background, there is the story of the developing relationship between two teachers, Lars Olafson and Elena Sifuentes. Though this part is very small and almost not completely developed, their presence and relationship is significant because of the themes of renewal, second chances, and connections between people. Lars describes how nervous he was around Miss Sifuentes: "I'm riffing to Elena about evolution, life, and the wonders of the human body Saturday afternoon at the Weenie Ranch, my motor mouth shifted into third gear, mindlessly hurtling down the highway." This is similar to Rob's response when he first speaks to D.C. and thinks: "I usually don't have an easy time talking to pretty girls, but she's just gawky enough that I feel comfortable around her." Elena's description of Lars: "I do admit though he's sweet and sincere, and his goofy grin is growing on me" is also reminiscent of D.C.'s attraction to Rob: "There's another boy dwarf though who . . .catches my eye `cause he seems quieter than the rest, a definite Bashful."
Levine's writing is straightforward and moving. On several occasions, the pace of the story switches suddenly from the playful, and idyllic tranquility of a child's happy world then to the tragic events. Though these events of loss are dealt with gracefully and Levine then shifts to a different perspective to keep the tone relatively positive, some pre-teens might find the shifts and the emotions surrounding the losses too powerful and daunting.
Island Eyes, Island Skies is a heartwarming, touching story about life, connections, and how two friends cope with life's curveballs. Four stars.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader
The narratives switch back and forth between the two pre-teens who "like" each other. You get to read what each of them are thinking before/during/after the first kiss all the way to the first utterance of love.
Both sweethearts (though don't tell them I called them that!) are too young to really understand their feelings and both have horrible tragedies befall them. You will get to live beside them through these experiences and you'll feel the same knots in your stomach. This author paints the scene so well that I was there. I felt physically ill at one point and who can say a book has affected them in such a way that you felt emotionally drained?
Some may not like that every once in awhile you get someone else's narrative. I think it's a nice step away from the two main characters so that you don't get bored. I enjoyed stepping out into other people's heads for a short bit.
Overall, this book was so well written that the 5th star was for near-perfect editing. I loved that I could read this delicious story without having to stop and figure out punctuation or spelling. I didn't notice a single error.
I want to thank the author for writing this book.