REVIEW: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Thursday, April 2, 2015
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Published by: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on March 17th, 2015
Series: No
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5/5

From Goodreads: A powerful story of friendship and sacrifice, for fans of Code Name Verity.

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a profession musician-- not an easy thing if you're a girl, and harder still if you're Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. 

With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Samy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heat-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it's a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

My Thoughts:

My Sweet Under a Painted Sky,

Holy crap on a cracker! Your cover!!! It's so very pretty. I'm glad I took the time to really look at the squiggles next to your title and realized they were snakes, rabbits, and dragons, because they actually relate to your story a lot. This cover is perfect for you, which doesn't happen to often for books unfortunately! Besides your cover, I was really stoked about the western/Oregon Trail aspect of you. I can honestly say I have never read a YA about that era/time period/location, and I ab-so-lute-ly adored it!!!! And the diversity! You are just bursting with diversity, which is so refreshing and new. 

You follow the story of Samantha, who is a Chinese girl living in Missouri in 1849, and desperately dreaming to make it back to New York to pursue her dream of becoming a professional musician. But something bad happens, dashing any hopes of her dreams coming true and leaving her on the run for her life with the help of a runaway slave named Annamae. Life on the Oregon Trail isn't meant for two girls, so they decide to dress up as boys instead, Sammy and Andy, who are headed to California for the gold rush. The two girls struggle with their pasts and survival on the trial until they run into an unexpected group of cowboys, who turn out to be heart-filled allies. With the law closing in on them, bandits around the corner, and other setbacks, Sammy and Andy are quickly realizing it's hard to hide on the open trail.

The story-telling inside your pages, Under a Painted Sky, is so realistic. I felt like I was right there next to Sammy and Andy during all their shenanigans. I stressed with them. I whooped with them. I cried with them. Every emotion they felt slithered into my veins like a snake and encompassed me. I started reading you before bed, with every intention of reading about 50 pages and then hitting the hay for some shut eye. Well, that didn't quite happen, because I was hooked from page one. That opening line of yours was fantastic. I ended up staying up the rest of the night so I could finish you, which is saying a lot when I've been in a reading funk for the past month. 

I adored Sammy and Andy. They didn't start out as best friends, but over the course of you, Under A Painted Sky, they forge an unbreakable friendship. I can completely understand why you were described to be for fans of Code Name Verity. That friendship wasn't just any old friendship. It was a sisterly bond. They became each others family. It was beautiful. Not only was their friendship amazing, but the bond between them and the cowboys. I loved each of those boys, because they were hilarious, sweet, and smart as whips. Although I'll admit I'd be lying if there wasn't one cowboy who caught me with his lariat. He was so adorable, and I just wanted to push him and Sammy's faces together and make them kiss for all the pages ever! Definitely ship those two character's 5EVER!

Filled with thrills, squeals, and scares, forged between unbreakable friendships and budding relationships, you, Under a Painted Sky, are without a doubt a new favorite of mine. I will be adding your author's name, Stacey Lee, to my auto-buy list for the future. Congrats to her on blowing me away with her debut. I cannot gush about you enough, Under a Painted Sky, and if I could give you ALL THE HEARTS I definitely would, but I think you'll still be pretty happy with FIVE! :)

Tippin my hat,


Have you read Under a Painted Sky? What did you think? What was your favorite part? Want to read it? Why? Let's discuss!

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  1. Really must move this one from the wish list to the TBR pile soon! I cannot wait till I can lift the book buying ban once and for all! I love that the setting is so unique and the book is so focused on friendship and so full of diversity!!
    Fantastic review as always Becca!

  2. I have this one waiting on my TBR for me. Now that I know you enjoyed it, I'm even more excited to read it :) Maybe that will encourage me to get to it faster. haha

    Great Review!

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

  3. I want to read this so badly. I love the cover as well, and the bond between the two characters seems like something I would love. Great review Becca!

  4. I seriously cannot wait to read this book! It's been on my library list for a bit, and just waiting for it to become available. I'm happy that you loved it because it makes me want to read it even more! :)


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