Southwest Children's  Literature

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Hole in the Sky


In the year 2028, a deadly flu virus emerges and begins its attack on our world. Before ten years pass, the population, which had once reached over seven billion people, has decreased to a mere thirty-eight million. The living are scattered throughout the world, many living in isolated communities, fearing all outsiders who may be caring the deadly virus. Two types of people live in the world now: those that were somehow (luckily) unexposed to the flu and then those who contracted the virus and were damaged in some way (physically and/or mentally), but did not die. This second group of people has become known as "Survivors." At the beginning of Hole in the Sky, a small band of these Survivors known as the Kinka has emerged, believing that it is their God-given purpose to infect others with the flu, as they travel in bands terrorizing and murdering to achieve their purpose. This is the present state of the world.

Ceej and Harryette Kane live with their uncle in deserted hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Ceej is sixteen and considers life to be quite boring, except when his best friend (and only friend besides his sister) Tim was visiting. Tim's father (Hap) is a trader and once a month the two of them visit the Kane's residence to deliver medical supplies and other items. This is Ceej's only contact with the outside world.

The story opens during one of these visits and we quickly learn that Ceej's uncle and Hap are worried about the Glen Canyon Dam. Hap had just visited the community surrounding the dam only to find the town murdered. The two adults decide they need to investigate the area because if the dam is ignored a disastrous flood will occur at any time. They all fear that the Kinka is responsible, even though this group of outlaws is still only a rumor. It is quickly decided that Ceej's older sister, Harryette, will join the two adults to investigate the dam.

Before she contracted the flu, Harryette had been a happy seventh grader. She was a singer, designed and sewed her own clothes, and dreamed of being an actress. Now Harryette can't speak or understand the spoken word, her spirit nothing like it had once been, and like all Survivors, she is completely bald, not even a trace of eyebrows. Because she is a Survivor, she is immune to the virus, and may also be able to protect her uncle and Hap if the Kinkas are real and capable of what the rumors say.

A few days turn into weeks with no sign of Ceej's uncle, his sister, or Hap. And thus begins the adventure that this book is all about. Hole in the Sky is broken into four parts, each narrated by one of the main characters: Ceej, Bella, Tim, and Harryette. This wonderful way of telling such a story allows us to see the action from many different viewpoints. It is so much easier to understand and believe a character when you can listen to him/her tell the story and then also see him/her from another character's eyes as well.

Ceej and Tim enter the Grand Canyon to begin their search for their loved ones. They meet Isabella, supposedly the last Hopi (Native American) in the world, who tells the boys about a Sipapuni (hole) in the sky that leads to a better world without disease. Can this be true? Can Bella be trusted? Can anyone be trusted? The three of them set out to find Harryette, Hap, and Ceej's uncle as well as this possible Hopi portal that could lead to their salvation.

This is a magical and mystical story that lets the reader choose their own interpretation based on the storytelling of the four teenagers. Hole in the Sky is a story about hope and survival, even in the face of immeasurable difficulty. The author's use of setting and tone help to make certain parts of this novel very frightening at times, and always enjoyable to read.

Hole in the Sky would be a great addition to any high school curriculum. The way in which the story is told from each of the main character's (all teenagers) viewpoints makes this novel very accessible to young readers who will be able to draw their own conclusions to many aspects of the plot. Student could be easily encouraged to create their own version of an alternate ending (or a sequel) to this open-ended novel. In addition to this, teachers expand upon non-fiction aspects of this novel and easily engage their students with discussion about the Hopi tribe or further investigation of the Hopi beliefs and spirituality.

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