The Sky We Shared

By Publishers Weekly

Vernick’s (The Black Butterfly) well-researched novel centers two 14-year-old girls—one in America, one in Japan—as they grapple with survival during WWII’s final months. In Bly, Ore., Nellie Doud endures rationing and frequent blackouts caused by the war while navigating growing feelings for her emotionally withdrawn best friend Joey, who’s mourning his killed-in-action older brother. In Japan’s Shinji-cho village, Tamiko Nakaoka, who walks with a limp after recovering from polio, attends school amid food scarcity. When her brother enlists in the Imperial Army, Tamiko treks to nearby Kure City, where she intends to help with the war effort to provide better food for her family. There, she works 12-hour days gluing paper for balloons. But unbeknownst to Tamiko, these balloons are carrying bombs headed for Nellie in Oregon. Inspired by true events and told in alternating first-person perspectives that cover different periods in each girl’s life before converging at its affecting climax, Vernick’s moving prose renders both voices with empathy. Balanced narratives and steady pacing effectively highlight an often-overlooked period in both Japanese and American history. Historical context detailing Japan’s Fu-Go Project, a glossary, and more conclude. American characters cue as white.