Review by Booklist Review
It's oddly appropriate that 14-year-old Sophie, whose namesake is the famous balloonist Sophie Blanchard, should witness, along with her friends Wyatt and K, a cloud hopper's fall from the sky. Seriously injured, the hopper--a teenage girl--is rushed to the hospital, where she can't or won't speak. What is her name? What is her story? The three kids are determined to find out. Meanwhile, they have their own stories. Protagonist Sophie, abandoned by her mother at birth, lives with her grandma Aubrey, who is dying of multiple sclerosis. K is a 14-year-old boy, also abandoned by his mother, who lives alone in the cockpit of a broken-down plane at the tiny municipal airport. And Wyatt, a parentless 15-year-old girl who is a gifted baker with an unspoken secret, lives with Joseph, the manager of the airport, which is a gathering place for elderly Vietnam War vets, who help the kids with their quest. The three have one clue: a name, Mauricio Flores. But how will that help? Is it possible the cloud hopper is not speaking to protect someone? Kephart's tender, sometimes melancholy story is carefully plotted and highly readable. It is beautifully written, too, although sometimes a bit self-consciously so. Its characters are its greatest strength, however. They--and their interrelationships--come to life on every page of this appealing story.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
After 14-year-old Sophie Blanchard and her two best friends, K and Wyatt--all living with adoptive caretakers near a rural municipal airport--see a girl piloting a solo hot air balloon, a cloud hopper, fall from the sky in a sudden storm, they rush to help her. When she doesn't speak, they try everything to learn more--visiting her in the hospital, searching the crash site, bribing the hospital staff with Wyatt's blueberry confections, and doing reconnaissance to determine the hopper's provenance. As Sophie's grandmother's multiple sclerosis progresses and Wyatt uncovers something painful from her own past, the three friends face the inevitable hard truth that to save the girl, they must leave her be. In lyrical prose that conveys moving interpersonal relationships, Kephart (The Great Upending) creates a quirky group with a capacity for friendship that amuses and endears, and provides a nuanced look at immigration and found family. Soft sketches by Sulit depict the characters and picturesque setting. Ages 11--14. Agent: Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary. (Sept.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up--A beautifully-written historical science fiction story that embodies human nature. Through unique character voices and detailed imagery, Kephart creates a novel about three misfits who witness the tragic accident of a cloud hopper (a person with a jet pack that can hop through the clouds) that changes their lives forever. Each of their stories unfolds through the voice of the main character, Sophie, who interweaves their history with the present. Readers learn about her namesake, a famous hopper, through stories told by her grandma, who lives with multiple-sclerosis. They also learn about how Vietnam veterans took over an abandoned airport to fly families in hot air balloons, and a how a family's love is unending (even if it isn't blood-related). Kephart's compelling read highlights the innate nature of the human race to do what is right even when everything feels like it is fighting against you. VERDICT Fans of Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity and Walter Dean Myers's We Were Heroes will love this book.--Lenore Catalano, Hammarskjold M.S., East Brunswick, NJ
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
Teenagers try to solve a mystery and help a girl who won't speak. Sophie Blanchard, named after the famous French balloonist, lives with her Grandma Aubrey in a rural farming area known for its hot air balloons. Her grandmother, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, stepped in when Sophie's mother abandoned her. Wyatt and K, Sophie's best friends, also know deep loss, though, like Sophie, they don't speak much about it. One day, the three witness a one-person balloon, or cloud hopper, meeting with a terrible accident. They rush to save the life of the girl piloting it and then--when she will not speak and no one shows up to claim her--try to discover her identity. Backed up by suspicions as to why she is keeping quiet, the three embark on a mission to help the girl and, along the way, find that they may have also helped themselves. Evocative, slightly surreal, charcoallike illustrations are scattered through the text, and the prose is poetic as it delivers harsh truths about dealing with grief and loss while facing frightening circumstances. This novel touches on family, immigration, and leading with compassion. Readers will quickly get a feel for the characters, even secondary ones, and empathize with their complex, sometimes lightly unearthed stories. Main characters are white by default; some secondary ones are Latinx. A moving story about what makes a family and making a home wherever you end up. (Fiction. 13-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.