Reviews for Escape Under the Forever Sky

Booklist Reviews 2009 May #1
Teens itching to read about life on another continent will relish Yohalem's exciting debut novel set in Africa. Lucy Hoffman's mom is the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, so Lucy lives and attends high school in the capital city of Addis Ababa. Unfortunately, Lucy's overprotective mother won't let her out of the house, which means no game drives or hanging out with her friends at the local ice-cream parlor. Frustrated and resentful, Lucy and a friend sneak out of the house and head into the city. The plot quickens when Lucy is kidnapped and held for ransom. Isolated and without shoes, Lucy plans an escape using her knowledge of the African wilderness. Loosely based on a true story, Yohalem's tale weaves together the beauty of the African wildlife with the harsh realities of a poor and unstable region. Scenes depicting Lucy's resourcefulness are riveting, and the author's descriptions of Ethiopian culture will pique young readers' curiosity about life abroad. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 March #1
An American teen living in contemporary Ethiopia relies on raw courage and her knowledge of the local ecology when she's kidnapped in this debut novel based on a real-life event. Ethiopia should be the perfect place for 13-year-old Lucy, who devours books about African mammals. But she lives in the American embassy in Addis Ababa with her overly protective, workaholic mother, the U.S. Ambassador, who insists Lucy stay within the embassy compound. Bored and frustrated, Lucy sneaks out, is kidnapped and held prisoner in the countryside. After sizing up her captors, Lucy knows she must get away, even if it means heading out on her own without water into unknown territory inhabited by lions and hyenas. Lucy tells her story in the first person, alternating between events as she experienced them and flashbacks to her life before the kidnapping. Yohalem effectively conveys the immediacy of Lucy's terror and fear as well as her deep love for the natural beauty around her. How stalwart Lucy escapes and survives makes this an engrossing journey from innocence to experience. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 March #4

Lucy lives a suffocating life in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in Yohalem's debut, which was inspired by true events. With her mother working constantly as a U.S. ambassador and her life in Bethesda, Md., far away, Lucy is lonely and confined to the house because of her somewhat reckless nature. Most of her time is spent at school or with the house servant, an elderly Ethiopian man named Iskinder, who tells her stories of the country's history, traditions and power struggles. More than anything, Lucy wants to explore, free to discover the animals of the African forest and the Simien Mountains ("Africa is the only place I've ever been where human beings feel like just one small part of a vast and complicated earth"). When Lucy is kidnapped and held for ransom, she is finally given the chance to use her strength and wildlife knowledge to survive. Lucy's past and present are gracefully woven together, through well-integrated flashbacks, into a powerful picture of the life of a foreigner in Ethiopia. The story should appeal to all with a sense of adventure. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)

[Page 60]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 May

Gr 5-8--Chafing at the restrictions of being the American ambassador's daughter, 13-year-old Lucy sneaks out to the market in Addis Ababa, is kidnapped by drug dealers, and escapes into the Ethiopian bush where she faces a pride of lions. Based on a widely circulated news story of a kidnapping and lion rescue, this unusual adventure places a reassuringly typical American teenager in an intriguingly different setting. Bored by endless rounds of official visits and restricted to the American compound when not in her elite private school, Lucy whiles away her time reading books about African wildlife, dreams of her twice-monthly visits to a game park, and schemes ways to avoid her protectors. The first-person narrative includes flashbacks that reveal something of Lucy's life prior to the kidnapping. Caught up in the suspense, readers will probably accept how much Lucy's gymnastics training and naturalist reading contribute to her survival, as well as the coincidence of her ending up at the village home of a classmate. First-time novelist Yohalem researched her story with a visit to Ethiopia and her reportage may leave readers, like Lucy, wanting to know more about that world.--Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD

[Page 120]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2009 December
Being the daughter of the United States Ambassador to Ethiopia should be thrilling, but thirteen-year-old Lucy Hoffman is not even allowed to visit the markets, walk through the streets of Addis Ababa, or meet any locals except those she encounters at school. She feels like a prisoner, trapped by the walls of the embassy, her only escape in the books that she reads about African wildlife and twice-monthly trips to game parks. Even visits to her best friend can only take place with a driver in the BPM (bulletproof Mercedes), accompanied by Marine guards. When Lucy decides to rebel by sneaking away from her friend's house and lying to her driver, she is kidnapped by drug smugglers for a prisoner exchange. After a daring escape from her captors, Lucy finds she must use her knowledge of Africa and its plants and animals as well as her gymnastic skills to find her way to safety. Lucy's first-person narrative is absorbing, especially as she describes her escape and journey through a harsh and unforgiving landscape. Although Lucy seems irritatingly whiny, complaining about her restrictive life in the embassy, she changes during her incarceration to a surprisingly thoughtful and sensible person who appears much older than her years. Fascinating details of the peoples and culture of Ethiopia, as well as enthralling descriptions of Lucy's encounters with colobus monkeys, lions, hyenas, and warthogs, compensate for any narrative flaws. Booktalk this title and watch it fly off the shelves.--Jamie S. Hansen 4Q 3P M J Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.