The Sky at Our Feet

The Sky at Our Feet

This #ownvoices novel by bestselling author Nadia Hashimi tells the affecting story of an Afghan-American boy who believes his mother has been deported. For fans of Inside Out and Back Again and Counting by 7s. Jason has just learned that his Afghan mother has been living illegally in the United States since his father was killed in Afghanistan. Although Jason was born in...

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Title:The Sky at Our Feet
Author:Nadia Hashimi
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The Sky at Our Feet Reviews

  • Richie Partington

    Richie’s Picks: THE SKY AT OUR FEET by Nadia Hashimi, HarperCollins, March 2018, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-06-242193-7

    “That very night in Max’s room a forest grew

    and grew--

    and grew until his ceiling hung with vines

    and the walls became the world all around”

    --Maurice Sendak, from Where the Wild Things Are, as painted on an outdoor stairway at the Central Park Zoo

    “‘I fall behind in school,’ my mom explains, continuing the story. ‘They sent me letters. I tried to explain I need time. You were so small and

    Richie’s Picks: THE SKY AT OUR FEET by Nadia Hashimi, HarperCollins, March 2018, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-06-242193-7

    “That very night in Max’s room a forest grew

    and grew--

    and grew until his ceiling hung with vines

    and the walls became the world all around”

    --Maurice Sendak, from Where the Wild Things Are, as painted on an outdoor stairway at the Central Park Zoo

    “‘I fall behind in school,’ my mom explains, continuing the story. ‘They sent me letters. I tried to explain I need time. You were so small and still in the hospital. Then I got one letter that says I cannot be in this country. The letter tells me I have to leave, but how can I go? My baby is in the hospital and your father’s grave is not yet covered in grass. And the people who called our families, they were still calling. They are angry because your father’s face was on the front of the newspaper and many people loved him. The bad people, they promise that the country will never be safe for his family.’

    So she stayed in America.

    But with my father dead, what were the chances that they would give his family a visa? Who could she ask without risking being sent back to Afghanistan?

    At any point, she could be found. At any point, she could be arrested. She had an expired passport and an expired student visa. That meant that if the authorities found her, they would send her back to Afghanistan. Knowing what happened to my father and the terrible words the people said, she had to make an impossible choice.”

    Twelve year-old Jason D. Riazi is a American citizen, with an Americanized name, living in New Jersey. He was born here. As a premie, he began life with an extended stay in the hospital.

    But his Afghan mother doesn’t have the blessing of American citizenship. She’d just arrived in America on that student visa when she learned she was pregnant. Jason’s father, an Afghan who was working as a translator for the American forces in Afghanistan, had successfully secured his wife’s student visa shortly before he was murdered.

    All these years later, it’s only a matter of weeks after Jason’s mom explains to him that she’s been in the country illegally, that Jason sees his mother being handcuffed at work and dragged away. He’s sure she’s going to be deported to Afghanistan.

    Jason runs home to their little apartment just long enough to grab a change of clothes and some parental photographs before heading toward Manhattan where “Auntie” Seema, his mother’s best friend in America, has recently moved. But short of sustenance, Jason passes out in Penn Station, sustains a concussion when he falls, and ends up in the pediatric ward of a Manhattan hospital. That’s where he meets Max, a girl his age who is pretty cagey about why her head’s all wired up to electrodes, and why she’s as determined as him to escape the hospital.

    There is as much of a joy vibe, as there is tension, when the duo successfully breaks out of the ward and heads to the Central Park Zoo--Max’s wish fulfillment--on the way to tracking down the apartment where Jason’s “auntie” lives.

    What will happen to Jason D., his mom, and to Max?

    There has always been a push among some Americans, no matter how recently their own forebears arrived, to exclude others from having the same opportunities to escape dangerous or miserable countries and come to America. “Do these strangers belong here?” is a question that divides those of us who are mindful that our own forebears were despised foreigners not all that that long ago from other Americans whose memories are shorter and whose hearts aren’t so generous.

    Author Nadia Hashimi, M.D. has woven her own background as a first-generation Afghan-American with aspects of her work as a pediatric doctor to craft a tale that is exciting, heartstopping, topical, and realistic. And joyful. While hinting at the fearful political situation that plagues immigrants in today’s America, she delivers a tale that’s filled with great riddles and actually has a happy ending.

    This is one that I’ll be talking up to the 10-to-14 year-old crowd.

    Richie Partington, MLIS

    Richie's Picks

    [email protected]

  • Aditi

    ----Drew Barrymore

    Nadia Hashimi, an internationally bestselling author, pens a heart wrenching and extremely intriguing tale about two kids' fearless adventures around the city of Big Apple to get to an address in her new book,

    . The story revolves around a young Afghan-American boy, goes on a quest to find his beloved aunt in New York City along with a friend whom he met at a hospital, when his mother is taken away by the

    ----Drew Barrymore

    Nadia Hashimi, an internationally bestselling author, pens a heart wrenching and extremely intriguing tale about two kids' fearless adventures around the city of Big Apple to get to an address in her new book,

    . The story revolves around a young Afghan-American boy, goes on a quest to find his beloved aunt in New York City along with a friend whom he met at a hospital, when his mother is taken away by the police on the pretext of illegal immigration issue. But on their way the two kids face a lot of challenges and dangers, and how they overcome that has been brilliantly portrayed by the author.

    Jason, whose Afghan single mother has overstayed her visa in America and is fearing deportation, goes on a dauntless yet gripping adventure with his new friend, named, Max, who is suffering from epilepsy. Together they journey to the Big Apple, trying to figure out the confusing street numbers, stumbling upon the dark side of the Central Park to falling prey to police officers looking for thew runaway kids, to the nurses, their adventure is only filled with drama, danger and complex challenges that they manage to overcome despite of the constant fear of getting caught. Their quest to find Jason's aunt is really vividly portrayed by the author and so is the honestly behind the general human behavior around an epileptic child.

    The author's writing style is coherent yet exquisite, rich with myriad emotions that will make the readers feel the pain, joy, happiness and the challenges of the protagonist till the very last page. The narrative is very simple and easy to comprehend with and the author has strikingly captured the voice and mindset of a young boy through honesty and in a quite thought provoking manner, that will force the readers to think about the protagonist's situation from their hearts. The pacing of the book is really swift as the journey itself will keep the readers anticipating with fear about the two kids' plight.

    This is a very satisfying read, that not only narrates the adventure of Jason and Max but also depicts the brutal truth about the cracks in the immigration system and the hardships around it in the life of an immigrant in the US. Also the author has sensitively captured the honesty behind a child's suffering from epilepsy and the people around her.

    The characters from this story are extremely well developed, laced with flaws and dynamism in their demeanor thereby making them look real and believable in the eyes of the readers. Jason is portrayed as someone dedicated to find his aunt who in turn who help him to find his mother, whereas Max is confident and funny, and would do anything for her friend, despite of her acute condition. Although this isn't much of a character-driven book, yet these two characters both enlighten the story with their unmatched charm.

    In a nutshell, this poignant yet extremely well developed story is a must read for one and all, irrespective of their age. Trust me, its so beautiful that its going to touch the very core of your souls.

  • Rebecca McNutt

    This book, set in New York at one of the most uncertain times in our recent history, is an excellent and evocative story of friendship, family and what it truly means to be an American. Jason's life is harrowing to read about, to say the least. He's a child who's not only facing being separated from his beloved mother due to her illegal immigrant status, but also going on an adventure with a girl his age, Max, who's pretty secretive about her own medical condition but who loves life and wants to

    This book, set in New York at one of the most uncertain times in our recent history, is an excellent and evocative story of friendship, family and what it truly means to be an American. Jason's life is harrowing to read about, to say the least. He's a child who's not only facing being separated from his beloved mother due to her illegal immigrant status, but also going on an adventure with a girl his age, Max, who's pretty secretive about her own medical condition but who loves life and wants to help her new friend on his journey.

    We live in a time of confusion, conflict and burning accusations, a time where everything out of the ordinary is suspicious. Hashimi chooses to focus less on the more adult themes that could have gone into this book and instead looks at what kind of impact deportation, family dysfunction and the fear of Muslims in America has on a child. All Jason knows is that his father was killed and his mother may be sent away forever. How's a kid to cope with that? Amidst the beautiful backdrop of the Big Apple,

    is a wonderful story that I'd recommend to anyone.

  • Laura (bbliophile)

    This was wonderful

  • Ms. Yingling

    E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

    Jason and his mother live in Elkton, where his mother works in a laundry, and the two live in a small but cozy apartment. One day, his mother tells him that while he was born in the US and is an American citizen, she came to the US on a student visa while Jason's father remained, working as a translator for the US military. After he was killed, she struggled to raise him and has never applied for asylum, even though her friend Seema keeps telling her to. Not long after,

    E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

    Jason and his mother live in Elkton, where his mother works in a laundry, and the two live in a small but cozy apartment. One day, his mother tells him that while he was born in the US and is an American citizen, she came to the US on a student visa while Jason's father remained, working as a translator for the US military. After he was killed, she struggled to raise him and has never applied for asylum, even though her friend Seema keeps telling her to. Not long after, his mother is picked up by the police at her place of work, and Jason panics. He grabs a back pack and a few granola bars, and starts off for his Aunt Seema's apartment in New York City. The venture does not start off well-- he loses his backpack and later passes out, hitting his head and ending up in the hospital. He pretends to have amnesia, so buys himself a little time. He meets Max, and girl who is vague about why she is in the hospital, and the two decide to break out and get to Seema's. They do manage to get out, and make their way across the city. Max really wants to see the zoo, and the children manage to get in. Max's medical problems catch up with her, however, but she tells Jason to go on without her. He has several adventures of his own and eventually makes it to Seema's. The big question still remains, however; what will happen to his mother, and to him if she is returned to Afghanistan?

    Strengths: The issues of Jason's mother's immigration challenges are related in a realistic, sympathetic, and understandable way. Jason's love for his mother and his Afghan culture are very sweet. The adventure in New York City is what will sell this to children, especially since Jason even has a brush with celebrity. This put me in mind of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in the best possible way.

    Weaknesses: While I would have adored reading the adventure in this when I was 12, just about every decision that Jason makes appalls me as an adult. I also was alarmed by how little planning Jason's mother had done. As a single parent, it seems that she would have had an emergency plan for Jason even if she hadn't had the additional worry of immigration on her mind. Also, I would have liked a bit more detail about Jason's every day life before his mother's detainment.

    What I really think: Definitely purchasing. This is a great mix of adventure and very realistic problems, told from an #ownvoices perspective.

  • Katrina

    A lovely romp around exciting New York City as a young Afghan-American boy relies on his wits, being brave and trusting others to help find help for his Mum. Ever fearful of being deported for being an illegal immigrant, Jason's Mum's worst fears are realised one morning when she is taken away from her workplace, the local laudromat, in a police car.

    Jason can only look on in despair but he soons hatches a plan to get help and seek out his beloved Auntie Seema, a close friend who has always been

    A lovely romp around exciting New York City as a young Afghan-American boy relies on his wits, being brave and trusting others to help find help for his Mum. Ever fearful of being deported for being an illegal immigrant, Jason's Mum's worst fears are realised one morning when she is taken away from her workplace, the local laudromat, in a police car.

    Jason can only look on in despair but he soons hatches a plan to get help and seek out his beloved Auntie Seema, a close friend who has always been there for his mother and Jason offering friendship and support when they most needed it. He has never visited her before as she always came to their house but he has seen a photo of her home and he rips her return address from postage she has sent them and he rummages around for some loose change in the house and some snacks for his tummy.

    Jason is really not sure he will be successful in his quest but he can't just do nothing. I must be brave and give it a go despite my fear. When a nasty dog snaps his backpack away from him at the outset, with most of his supplies inside it, it seems his quest is already destined for failure. But Jason urges himself to be brave and give it go. Knocks on the head, a chance meeting in a hospital with a young girl called Max who's head is all wired to a machine and then a brave escape with her for freedom to continue Jason's search for Auntie Seema unlocks an exciting but fearful adventure as both escapees attempt to outwit adults - caring nurses, doctors, and police officers - as they navigate immense New York City. They must solve the puzzle of the street grid numbering system, seek out faster ways to get around the city, avoid those - possibly the whole city's occupants - who are looking for 2 young children without adults and have a bit of fun at the same time. What could be better than a side excursion to Central Park Zoo?

    And then Max, this super-intelligent young girl, who has joined Jason in his quest to find Auntie Seema reveals her real reason for escaping with Jason. The freedom to escape for just a day, to try and forget her own worries spurs her on to help another person but will her health issues intervene as they have so often done in the past? Will Jason be able to help Max the way she is helping him when she most needs it? One might not feel brave all the time but sometimes overcoming the smallest hurdles become the bravest acts of all.

    When Max's circumstances force her to leave Jason's quest to find his Auntie Seemie will Jason have the strength to carry on? How will Max's act of bravery spur him on and will there be other people he meets on the way that will also offer him the hope and support he needs to carry on his quest. Evading Officer Khan is proving more and more difficult?

    This is a beautiful, reflective story about displaced people - illegal refugees, reviled war veterans, normal people with medical conditions - who are trying to find understanding and tolerance from others. It is too easy to judge those who's story we do not know. It is too easy to judge those for their wrong actions that, once the circumstances are known, might be better understood. Most people are good, sometimes we make the wrong decisions, but put yourself into the lives of Jason, his mother, Max, and many of the other characters in this book and perhaps there would be more compassion and tolerance in the world today. A very insightful book into the plight of refugees and those living with medical conditions and the role of people in authority genuinely committed to helping their fellowman to live safely and happily.

    Suitable for 8+. Nadia is an accomplished writer of three adult books and has successfully made her middle grade debut with One Half From the East. The Sky at Our Feet is another fabulous read.

  • Bethany

    When Jason sees his mother being taken away, his world is turned upside down and he's overcome by fear of what's to come next. His mom has been living in the US illegally and had an idea that something like this would happen. The backup plan has always been for Jason to find his aunt in New York City, but the trip isn't easy.

    When Jason falls and hits his head, he fakes amnesia to get out of telling the hospital staff and the cops who he really is. Here, he meets Max. She's the first person he te

    When Jason sees his mother being taken away, his world is turned upside down and he's overcome by fear of what's to come next. His mom has been living in the US illegally and had an idea that something like this would happen. The backup plan has always been for Jason to find his aunt in New York City, but the trip isn't easy.

    When Jason falls and hits his head, he fakes amnesia to get out of telling the hospital staff and the cops who he really is. Here, he meets Max. She's the first person he tells his secret to (the truth of who he really is) and she decides to help him in any way possible, but Max has her owns secrets hiding within her. The two of the work harmoniously together but will it be enough?

    I love the emotion in this story and it feels so realistic. Jason D's reaction and fear when he sees his mom taken was almost palpable. I love his friendship with Max and don't think Jason would be as strong as he is if it wasn't for her. The ending was perfect, but I'm not going to give away any spoilers.

    Final Verdict: This story is perfect for middle graders being taught the differences between people. There's a lot to be learned from this book but the main thing is that "sometimes, you have no choice but to be brave". This was a sentimental story about immigration, hard topics like running away, and written for ages eight and up.

  • Kristin Crouch

    Thank you to Nadia Hashimi and Harper Collins for providing #collabookation an ARC of The Sky at Our Feet to share and review.

    Jason D learned a month ago that his mother is an ‘illegal alien’ in the US. Then he sees her taken from her job and put into the back of a car by two uniformed men. Suddenly, he's alone.

    No longer able to enjoy his mother’s care and comfort, Jason must face many harsh realities in his run across New York City to find his Aunt Seema. She is the only other person in the U

    Thank you to Nadia Hashimi and Harper Collins for providing #collabookation an ARC of The Sky at Our Feet to share and review.

    Jason D learned a month ago that his mother is an ‘illegal alien’ in the US. Then he sees her taken from her job and put into the back of a car by two uniformed men. Suddenly, he's alone.

    No longer able to enjoy his mother’s care and comfort, Jason must face many harsh realities in his run across New York City to find his Aunt Seema. She is the only other person in the US Jason feels he can turn to for help. Focused and determined, nothing will get in his way...Except a concussion, hospital stay, the subway system, hunger, fear, and and no working knowledge of NYC. But memories of his mother keep him moving. He meets an accomplice, Max, whose own determination inspires Jason D to keep searching for home.

    This book was not what I expected, and that's wonderful! Given the premise, I thought it would be a tale of despair. Given that deportation is a current issue tearing families apart, I was ready for a fruitless search. The Sky At Our Feet isn't that. With strong themes of bravery and home, it sings. Jason D is always looking back to his mom’s loving guidance (and riddles-lots of riddles!) in order to move forward. In his search he runs through many hypothetical plans; the uncertainty is realistic and eye-opening.

    Ultimately, The Sky At Our Feet is an adventure with higher stakes than your ‘typcial’ middle grade book. But it's the world we live in, and it's what schoolchildren today are being forced to think about. Sadly necessary, this book is good for anyone in a similar situation to Jason, but maybe even more so to those who are not.

  • Simran (poetry.and.tea)

    The Sky At Our Feet is a story about a young boy Jason D, and his mother who had fled Afghanistan after his father's death and now are living in America as immigrants. Written from Jason's point of view its about his adventures or should I say misadventures when he finds out that his mum is can be sent to Afghanistan by the immigration officers and police.

    The story is about a delicate yet very poignant issue and gives the readers a peek into the lives of immigrants to gain a better perspective

    The Sky At Our Feet is a story about a young boy Jason D, and his mother who had fled Afghanistan after his father's death and now are living in America as immigrants. Written from Jason's point of view its about his adventures or should I say misadventures when he finds out that his mum is can be sent to Afghanistan by the immigration officers and police.

    The story is about a delicate yet very poignant issue and gives the readers a peek into the lives of immigrants to gain a better perspective over it. I really liked the parts where Jason's Mom started telling him more details about his father and how she gave him an American name so nobody would think he's different. But the story be assured, is about more than immigration. There is a very important helping side character Max who adds to the spunk to the story and takes off the tension and gives you a good laugh. I really liked Max, there's something really likable about her character.

    By the middle of it I was really rooting for them both and I just wanted Jason to reach the destination, but twists kept coming in the way. All in all it was a wonderful read, a bit emotional but not in a heavy way kind of enjoyable read, the context of story is about friendship, family and conflict about oneself and their identity. I liked that Hashimi did'nt focus more on the heavy difficult overbearing details but kept it real and straighforward. :)

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