Watch the Sky
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher: Disney Hyperion, 2015
Source: Personal Purchase
Jory knows his family is different. They wear boots all the time, don’t associate with their neighbors, and have family meetings before dawn. They are a family with secrets.
His stepfather, Caleb, is a former soldier who is always looking for “signs.” He claims the signs are unmistakable: five dead birds in a row, pages torn from a library book, a meteor shower. The signs are everywhere and anywhere. What these signs mean exactly, Jory is not sure, but he knows that Caleb is going to make sure they are prepared for whatever is to come. Caleb is going to keep the family safe.
Jory’s mother is different, too, preferring to remain at home, rarely going out in the world to do things like grocery shopping. Instead, she cans food grown in the field for the family to eat. She had Jory’s baby brother, Ansel, at their home. Ansel seems to be frail and once he is born, occupies much of his mother’s time.
Jory has a secret sister. One day a young girl shows up on their property, and Jory finds her eating raw pumpkins in the field. Jory doesn’t know where she has come from, but his mother decides to keep the child, never notifying the authorities. She claims she is Jory’s sister, but when Jory questions her about Kit, his mother says, “Mother’s know their children. … A mother’s love is an invisible cord, linking them heart to heart (pg. 13). Kit is homeschooled, and few people are aware she even exists.
Kit is another difference. She does not talk, though Jory discovers that she can speak. However, this is another secret, for Kit never lets her parents know that she has the ability to speak- and Jory doesn’t, either. Their mother is sure Kit understands language, but Caleb is not as certain. However, he does allow Kit to stay as part of the family as long as she does not become a problem.
Jory is no longer homeschool because Caleb claims it is safer this way. Going to school will be Jory’s way of “hiding in plain sight” (pg. 17). And yet, even school is problematic. Jory must not let anyone know about the family’s secrets. He doesn’t want friends – or enemies – and yet it seems he finds both. He thinks his studies are interesting, but Caleb tells him that he should not accept what he is taught as the truth. It all seems complicated and difficult.
And life for Jory is about to become even more complicated because the sign has come and Caleb has a new goal for the family – to dig a tunnel which they will work on around the clock. How can Jory continue to keep everything a secret when he is not keeping up with his schoolwork and is constantly exhausted? Yet the family’s needs come first, no matter how Jory struggles to balance his time and hide the biggest secret of all – his doubts about what the signs really mean.
Watch – not the sky – but for a future post. I am once again compelled to write up some discussion questions!