Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK.
Hardcover, 288 pages.
Release date: February 14th 2013.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Iris Dancy’s free-spirited mum has left for Tunisia, her dad’s rarely sober and her brother’s determined to fight anyone with a pair of fists.
When a family of travellers move into the overgrown paddock overnight, her dad looks set to finally lose it. Gypsies are parasites he says, but Iris is intrigued. As her dad plans to evict the travelling family, Iris makes friends with their teenage son. Trick Deran is a bare knuckle boxer who says he’s done with fighting, but is he telling the truth?
When tools go missing from the shed, the travellers are the first suspects. Iris’s brother, Sam, warns her to stay away from Trick; he’s dangerous, but Iris can no longer blindly follow her brother’s advice. He’s got secrets of his own, and she’s not sure he can be trusted himself.
Infinite Sky is a family story about betrayal and loyalty, and love.
Family, friendship, first love and the loss of innocence are just some of the themes explored in Infinite Sky, the heartfelt and at times harrowing coming-of-age tale from debut novelist C.J. Flood.
Thirteen year old Iris lives in a world painted in different shades of blue. Since her bohemian mother decided to go ‘find herself’ beneath azure blue Tunisian skies, Iris’s whole world has turned upside down. Family life has fallen by the wayside, and nobody has done the housework in forever. Iris’s dad is drinking heavily, her older brother Sam who has fallen in with the wrong crowd is heading for trouble fast, and the childhood friendship she thought she could count on is falling apart. With a long, hot summer stretching before her, Iris needs something to fill her days and to take her mind off her none-too-happy home life. Enter Trick.
Tick is the boy who breathes sunshine and bright blue skies into Iris’s life. He’s also a traveler, and Iris’s dad is none to happy when the caravans housing Trick and his family move into his paddock. Iris, on the other hand, is fascinated by the travelers and their different way of life. Over the course of the summer, Iris and Trick forge a friendship in the cornfields and lakes surrounding her dad’s farm. Their friendship is an innocent one of first kisses and shared secrets. It is genuine and touching, but we already know from the opening pages of this book, that theirs will be no happy ending.
Iris is a girl who refuses to let life bring her down. In contrast to a father who is world weary, and a brother who simmers with anger and frustration, Iris tries to find the good in every situation. Her views towards the travelers are not coloured by her dad’s prejudices, and she is the only one in her family who maintains contact with her mother, keeping her informed on her friendship with Trick and the goings-on at the farm. She makes pancakes for breakfast when nobody else bothers to cook, and finds beauty in art and in nature. Though she is a teenager, she maintains the innocence of a child. Iris sees the wonder and joy in everything around her. It’s just a pity that not everybody around Iris sees the beauty in life the way she does.
Written with a charming simplicity and beautifully vivid descriptions, Infinite Sky is an endearing coming of age tale, but it also has a jagged edge that cuts right to the core as tensions and ugly prejudices play out with tragic consequences for Iris and everyone she knows.