At it’s core, it is a story about loss. This touching fantasy novel follows Helena, Jason, and Kailani as their lives become steadily more intertwined until they have to make an impossible choice together. Helena goes to the beach to grieve the loss of her father, a brilliant scientist who taught her the importance of reason and logic. Jason, her childhood sweetheart, goes to the beach to run and to relive his memories there of all his big plans. As their paths cross, a forbidden boat comes ashore from the Blessed Lands, containing only a young girl, claiming to be The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky. From that point on, none of them will ever be the same. They must fight to keep Kailani safe and free in a world that doesn’t understand her and sees her as a threat. Through it all, they wonder: who is Kailani really? Is she a prophet of change or a traumatized little girl? Can she be both?
“I am Kailani, the daughter of the sea and the sky.” Then slowly her lids closed and her body went limp. Helena looked to Jason. “Dear reason, is she…? He probed the hollow along the girl’s neck with two fingers and found a pulse. “Just exhausted. She’s passed out.”
The Blessed Lands and the Republic are an embodiment of two warring impulses of human nature, faith and reason. The Blessed Lands are home to all of those who value faith and believe in the power of myths to provide comfort and a better life. The Republic, on the other hand, has forbidden proselytizing and public displays of faith, maintaining that such things are a personal matter and lead only to strife and war. They rely on reason and science to guide them, and are therefore much more advanced than their devout counterparts. While the people of the two lands have tried valiantly to remain apart to keep the peace, it is clear that human nature is a duality and the separation is doomed to fail. There will always be true believers even among men and women devoted to pure science and logic, while trying to live on faith alone proves to create a difficult and primitive existence for those isolated from scientific advances. Only together can they thrive and be truly happy.
Nearly all of the characters in The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky have been touched by tragedy. Much of the novel takes place on a farm near the border of the two lands, which has become a haven for those unable to cope with their lives of pure reason. Helena’s mother retreated there after the death of her father, and most of the characters are there to adjust to a loss of some kind. This is the thread that ties them all together and showcases what makes them human. Together, they must explore the role that faith plays in the grieving process, even within the most rational of minds.
She stretched her mind beyond its rational limits, trying to see the universe through Kailani’s eyes, to touch her father’s spirit and ask forgiveness. Feeling weak-kneed, she sat on the ground, reaching out with either hand to steady herself. She held her breath and listened for a response.
For me, the only thing that keeps The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky from earning five stars is the vagueness behind the world these characters inhabit. The idea behind a world with only two landmasses, interconnected only by a narrow land bridge was in interesting one, as was the concept of the two populations being so vastly different from each other. I couldn’t help but feel, however, that Litwack’s attempt at world building fell a little flat. I never felt like I fully understood the way these lands came to be or how the history had unfolded to lead up to the point in which the story takes place. Much of the plot is dependent on the distinction between the two types of people, the true believers and the purely rational. To have the back story there so nebulous was the only blight on an otherwise stellar novel.
[stars color=”blue” number=”four” width=”350px”]
Overall, The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky is a fascinating novel, both well written and deeply thought-provoking. The characters are relatable and will continue to tug on your heartstrings long after you finish the last word. I give it four stars.
[amazon id=”fligoffant04-20″ asin=”B00K434HRU” title=”The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky” author=”David Litwack” source=”Book Club Reading List” afflink=”http://bookclubreading.com/books?ap_id=jennamarie”%5D
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