Why do the people who are closest to you hurt you?
Write My Name Across The Sky is a riveting story about three women who are grieving losses and making decisions they think will protect from future hurt – whether that is lashing out to keep people at bay or burying themselves in new experiences. The novel follows two adult sisters and the aunt who stepped in to care for them when their rock star mother died young.
There’s Samantha who along with her longtime best friend and partner, Asher, creates video games so maybe she has a place to escape the reality of her father abandoning her and not coming back even after her mother’s death.
There’s her younger sister Willow who’s a musical prodigy like their mother was, but Willow’s “manic pixie dream girl” appearance often gets her dumped when people stop buying into the fantasy so she seems to move from one relationship to the next.
And then there’s Gloria, their mother’s sister, a former stewardess who helped to traffic and sell art forgeries in her heyday and whose past is now catching up with her as the FBI comes calling and Isaak, the artist, is still reaching out.
This beautiful novel unfolds in gorgeous New York, with an architectural dream of an apartment complete with a greenhouse filled with Gloria’s delicately cultivated flowers, and Willow’s folksy violin or Billie’s old hits playing in the background. Sitting down to read this book felt exactly like the literary equivalent of a to-go cup of chai tea and a blanket on the grass while at an outdoor concert.
Write My Name Across The Sky is told in alternating perspectives with chapters that are just a few pages long so we didn’t get too immersed in any one character that we took her side exclusively. In fact, as the sisters alternate between fighting and taking care of each other, and the aunt deals with her crises but also orchestrate things in her nieces’ lives, it became easy to visualize the scenes like a movie and root for each of the women whenever they were featured on screen.
Aside from these relationships, Author Barbara O’Neal explored three different expressions of romance – Sam’s partnership with Asher evolving from their decades-long platonic status; Gloria maintaining her feelings for a man she hasn’t seen in decades and Willow’s electric connection with a fellow musician where the music does the talking. For a book that centers on the women, Asher especially is brilliant in his supporting role, to contrast with other men who are mentioned and who have failed to provide security, like Sam’s emotionally distant father.
This was my first time reading anything from this author but I will certainly seek out more of O’Neal’s books. I admired the pacing of the novel, the layers of characters and the things that plague them – some new, some old – the jaunts through New York and the sights, sounds and smells held me captivated but most of all, I enjoyed the relationships that unfolded between the pages, how the characters were represented and how they evolved or didn’t. The music and lyrics that were woven into the narrative were also really moving and felt like it wasn’t just a tribute to a specific artist but to what the art form can do.
I could quibble about the things that got mentioned that didn’t quite get resolved satisfactorily or that seemed like they needed a few more pages to explain at the end (like I wanted more details about what happened to Isaak’s original artwork) but isn’t that also the mark of a good story – that it leaves you wanting more?
I’d recommend this book for fans of TV shows like Brothers and Sisters and This Is Us.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of Write My Name Across The Sky in order to complete this review. I was not otherwise compensated and the above reflects my honest opinions about the book. Thanks TLC Book Tours for including me in this tour.
- Title: Write My Name Across The Sky
- Author: Barbara O’Neal
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 351
- Publication Date: August 10, 2021
- Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
The USA Today bestselling author of When We Believed in Mermaids returns with a tale of two generations of women reconciling family secrets and past regrets.
Life’s beautiful for seventysomething influencer Gloria Rose, in her Upper West Side loft with rooftop garden and scores of Instagram followers–until she gets word that her old flame has been arrested for art theft and forgery, and, knowing her own involvement in his misdeeds decades earlier, decides to flee. But that plan is complicated when the nieces she raised are thrown into crises of their own.
Willow, overshadowed by her notorious singer-songwriter mother, has come home to lick her wounds on the heels of a failed album and yet another disastrous relationship. Sam, prickly and fiercely independent, is on the verge of losing not only her beloved video game company but the man she loves, thanks to her inability to keep her always-simmering anger in check.
With the FBI closing in, Willow’s career in shambles, and Sam’s tribulations reaching a peak, each of the three woman will have to reckon with and reconcile their interwoven traumas, past loves, and the looming consequences that could either destroy their futures or bring them closer than ever.