"Signed, Skye Harper" by Utah author Carol Lynch Williams is a fresh summer read with a strong voice, fiction that is factual, and true-to-life issues for teenagers to connect with.
Winston is 15 years old and hasn't seen her mother in over 10 years. She has been raised by her grandmother, Nanny, and is doing well working at the restaurant Nanny part owns and making goals to swim in the Olympics someday. While her life isn't perfect — the boy she crushes on doesn't notice her, and her pet rooster has only one leg — she is happy.
Then, her estranged mother, now known as Skye Harper, sends a letter home saying her Hollywood dreams didn't pan out and she wants Nanny and Winston to come and get her and bring her home. While Winston is hesitant, she knows Nanny really wants her daughter home, so she agrees to take the trip.
Nanny "borrows" a motor home from the man she co-owns the restaurant with while he's away in Europe, and when they are hours from home, they discover Steve — the owner's son and Winston's crush — stowed away in the back. With no other choice but to bring him along, the road trip continues.
What follows is a story that is as timeless in the issues it addresses as it is spot on with its historical correctness. Set in the 1970s, everything from the price of eggs and gas to the newness of McDonald's and microwaves are different. The plotline surrounding the 1972 Munich Olympics adds further depth to the story and setting.
While the story may be set decades in the past, the issues that Winston faces are timeless and will appeal to teenage readers of any generation. Williams doesn't shy away from tough topics with broken families, teen pregnancy, unrequited love, first love and finding out who you are and what is important to you as themes that are explored equally and exquisitely in this novel. Williams even writes about how to find happiness in what is thought to be an unhappy ending.
With Winston's voice that jumps off the page and the book's easy-to-read journal-like format, readers may embrace Winston and the journey she travels and may discover something about themselves along the way.
"Signed, Skye Harper" has one drug reference, mild kissing scenes, multiple discussions about teen pregnancy and one skinny-dipping scene.