Chlorine Sky

by Mahogany L. Browne

“I’m tired of being worried about people not liking me.

I can’t do it anymore.

I can’t let Essa get under my skin.

I can’t let my opponents on the court make me feel like I don’t belong.”

Ratings & Reviews

Book Grade: B+

Chlorine Sky is a lovely coming-of-age verse novel. I appreciated Skyy’s strength and her self-awareness. She wanted to be seen for who she was and valued for what she contributed to the world, but when forces work against her, she has to fight hard to be recognized for her unique gifts. Skyy is loyal, persistent, and strives to be her own person, even when the odds are stacked against her.

While I liked Skyy’s voice, there were many times where I didn’t feel like the plot was moving forward. I sometimes felt that the book was stuck on repeat, but after continuing to read, I would realize that the author was driving home a point and wanted me – the reader – to recognize how important this was to Skyy. This is not an action-packed book, but rather a slow burn that focuses on one girl’s journey to undersatand herself and be understood by the world. She is strong and persistent and does a remarkable job of finding her voice. For that, I am grateful that I read this book – it truly is inspiring and captured me in a way that most verse novels do not. It is, however, not a plot-driven book, but rather a deeply emotional and reflective verse novel that emphasizes Skyy’s journey to make peace with who she is and accept herself in a world that can be harsh and unforgiving.

Movie Rating: PG-13

Chlorine Sky has some scenes that are a bit harder to take – there is some inappropriate touching and moments when Skyy is harassed and victimized by those around her. There is nothing truly graphic and the language is fairly tame, but there are incidents where emotions run high and difficult themes are brought up.

This book is not inappropriate by any means, but in order to be fully appreciated, I would recommend it for a high school reader who is acquainted with the verse novel format.

Would I Buy This for My Library: Probably

Chlorine Sky is a great addition to the verse novel collection in any library. It focuses on a unique voice and emphasizes growing to accept and appreciate yourself as an individual. It is not the most enthralling read, though, and I acknowledge that there will be some students who give up on the book before they come to the end where everything is wrapped up. I think that the cover art is beautiful and compelling and hope that that, combined with the verse novel format will be enough to lure readers in and encourage them to give it a chance as this is a great example of diverse fiction.

Summary:

Skyy is tired of feeling like she doesn’t fit into her world. She is a phenom on the basketball court, dominating the boys, but is often teased for dressing like she is ready for a game at any time. She has a supportive mother, but her sister often teases her, picking on all the little insecurities that Skyy has. Skyy loves swimming, but knows that her teammates have assumptions about her because of her skin color. Skyy feels that it is time for her to figure out who she is, what she wants, and what she stands for.

Told in verse poetry with thoughtful emotion, Chlorine Sky is at once captivating and relatable. Unlike so many novels which focus on a single climactic event, Chlorine Sky focuses on Skyy’s life as a teenager who is trying to find her way through friendships, a relationship, sports, and life. She recognizes that life isn’t always easy, but her voice is far from sad or hardened. I appreciate that while she emphasizes that she is a Black girl who sees race crop up at certain points, by and large, the obstacles that she faces are because she has a hard-working single mother; because she doesn’t care about fashion, but is passionate about sports; or because of the insensitive and cruel boys in her school – typical challenges to which any teenager can relate.

For fans of Jason Reynolds or Elizabeth Acevedo, Chlorine Sky proves to be a delightful book that focuses on one girl’s journey to overcome all that life throws at her and find her place in a world that doesn’t always value who she is or what she represents. This is a novel of triumph – even on a small scale – and the joy of finding and accepting oneself.

Book Talk Questions:

  1. Describe Skyy’s friendship with Lay Li. What causes their rift?
  2. Skyy is thrilled to have a boyfriend, but her relationship with him begins to change quickly. Explain what she finds out about him and how this changes her perception of herself.
  3. Describe Skyy’s relationship with her sister. How are they different? How does Essa mask her insecurities? How does Skyy try to hide hers?
  4. This is a good example of a verse novel – a novel told like a free-verse poem. How does that influence the way that you read the story? How does that influence the way that you see Skyy as a character?
  5. What lesson does Skyy learn at the end of the novel? In what ways has she changed?
  6. Where does the title come from? Does it fit the book?

A Perfect Read for Fans Of…

  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

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