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Elephant in the Sky

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  422 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
A testament to the healing power of unconditional love.

Widely acclaimed for her emotionally powerful stories that capture the real lives of women, Heather A. Clark, bestselling author of Chai Tea Sunday, tackles the subject of childhood mental illness and the impact it has on a close family.

The story begins from nine-year-old Nate’s point of view, etching the details of an
Paperback, 326 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by ECW Press (first published May 1st 2014)
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Kate Hilton
Jan 29, 2015 Kate Hilton rated it it was amazing
When nine-year-old Nate Carter disappears into a world of his own making, fault-lines appear in his once-happy family. As his parents and sister adjust to a new and troubling reality, they are forced to reevaluate everything they thought they knew about themselves and their future together. Heather A. Clark’s wonderful novel, Elephant in the Sky, is a brave and unflinching portrait of childhood mental illness, a meditation on what it means to be a family, and a testament to the healing power of ...more
Amy M
Jun 30, 2014 Amy M rated it liked it
I was disappointed in this book. Childhood mental illness is not a common subject, and I was eager to learn how a family navigated the journey. However, I felt the book was simplistic, the boy was very childish for a 9 year old (super-heroes at age 9? I think not) and the mom was ridiculous. She ignored the daughter, doted on the son, was always so perfect in her job & consideration/interactions with her husband. Completely not realistic. And the moment she says no to her boss he backs down ...more
Jun 01, 2014 Louise rated it it was amazing
Story Description:
ECW Press|May 1, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-77041-083-1
The stigma of mental illness and the power of a mother's love come together in this achingly honest novel. Widely acclaimed for her ability to tell emotionally powerful stories that capture the real lives of women, bestselling author Heather A. Clark tackles the subject of childhood mental disorders. ELEPHANT IN THE SKY is told from both nine-year-old Nate's point of view and that of his mother, Ashely, an overworkd a
Emily Burns
Sep 12, 2014 Emily Burns rated it liked it
Throughout my time reading Elephant in the Sky, I felt so very torn. At once, I felt both engrossed, so invested in the story of Nate's diagnosis and recovery, and simultaneously annoyed and furious with the personality and inner dialogue of his mother Ashley. The constant repetition at times of the offensive phrase 'crazy people' and the should-have-been-edited-because-it-was-included-far-too-often 'our son' - even though Ashley often claimed ownership over Nate and made important decisions ...more
Apr 30, 2014 Elaine rated it really liked it
Shelves: us-romance-drama
This is a good read which really grabbed me. It is the story of Ashley and her nine year old son Nate and is told alternatively from each perspective. Ashley is a hard working career woman whose husband Pete stays at home every day to look after their two children. Ashley is convinced that something is not right with Nate, but Pete will not take her fears seriously, claiming Nate is just a normal kid, who gets moody, naughty and acts hyper now and again. As the story progresses into the tale of ...more
Romy Schnaiberg
May 17, 2015 Romy Schnaiberg rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 27, 2014 Alexa rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I received this as one of the Goodreads giveaways. Although the over-arching message of the book was a good one and I think there need to be more books concerning mental health issues, I found the story to be overly simplistic and the writing to be rather juvenile. A lot of the chapters from the mother's point of view were rather boring, as they dealt with a lot of the conversation and intricacies at her office. I found the story overly predictable and I thought it could have been developed much ...more
Sep 30, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it
This book grabbed my attention from the very first page and I could not put it down. It was amazing to read what mental illness would be like for a 9 year old boy and alternately how it affected his mother and then the whole family. This is our Book Club read for the month and I am sure the discussion will be amazing.
Nov 06, 2016 Charissa rated it it was ok
When I began reading, I thought I was in for an easy, yet interesting read. The style that Clark was using to write seemed easy to follow, and seemed to read smoothly. Unfortunately, it didn't take long before I grew bored and uninterested in the story because the style seemed to become juvenile.

The subject of mental illness is a difficult one to take on, especially where the point of view of a child is concerned. I have yet to find another book that has attempted to portray what this might be l
Oct 23, 2016 Julia rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian-author
This is a novel about childhood mental illness. Although a made up story, the author is bringing awareness to readers of the complexity and heartbreak of bipolar disorder; the difficulty in diagnosing and the ensuing treatment. This story also gives hope for families dealing with this disorder that a normal life can be lead with proper treatment.
Leanne Lewis
Oct 22, 2016 Leanne Lewis rated it it was ok
I didn't particularly like this book. I felt that it could have told a great story but there wasn't enough character development. It read more like a biography and did not really have a climax.
Courtney Renee
Oct 10, 2016 Courtney Renee rated it it was amazing
This book was truly incredible to me. I've learned a tremendous amount about mental illness.

The only complaint I have is the dialogue for Nate sounded more like a child younger than he was, that being said I wouldn't know much about how a young child with mental illness would sound compared to a neurotypical child.

This book touched on so many areas and had twists and turns I had never expected. Not only was it an incredible read but it will stick with me.
Oct 06, 2014 Kate rated it liked it
There are aspects of this book that I really liked - notably Nate's point of view - and others that I didn't.

The story overall is an important one. The more stories out there like this the better but that doesn't make this one perfect. The story seemed almost a parable. I found the parents to have had their roles and reactions assigned to them rather than being actual, holistic, parts of their character. There's also an almost infuriating emphasis on the maternal instinct - mother Ashley knows r
Mary Jo
Aug 18, 2015 Mary Jo rated it it was amazing
I read constantly from 8:30pm-12:30am! I could not put this book down. As a teacher, I have seen the struggles some families face when mental illness begins to emerge. The novel, based on a true story, did show the gold standard in treatment of children's mental illnesses, which I only wish was a reality for children suffering. Too often, we see the more negative results of misdiagnosis and misunderstanding.

I liked how the author showed the struggles between parents/partners due to the stress i
Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

The mother and the son take turns narrating the story and showing their side, the son doesn't get as much playtime, but the fact that you hear from him was very important. This mother, Ashley, is a full time working mom with a husband that took the stay at home with the kid part of the duties, so she is a little removed from what is going on in the house day to day, but with odd things happening she starts cluing into what is happening at home which
Sep 30, 2015 Holly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: san-francisco-br
Ashley loves her high stakes job as an executive at an advertising firm, even though it keeps her away from her family sometimes. She thinks she’s doing a good job balancing her life… until her son starts acting strangely, and all of her maternal instincts tell her something is seriously wrong with her nine-year-old son Nate. Nate has been struggling to make sense of his life recently, and the things he has been seeing and hearing leave him feeling scared and alone.

Heather Clark has produced ano
Feb 12, 2016 Mandy rated it it was ok
This one just didn’t convince me. Laudable as the intention was – to explore child mental health – I found none of the characters convincing and thus couldn’t engage with it. Ashley is a career woman who forges ahead with her career whilst husband Pete remains at home with the children. Son Nate’s behaviour becomes increasingly unstable until both parents have to accept that something might be seriously wrong. So far so interesting, but Ashley herself is a deeply unlikeable and self-centred ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Maui rated it it was amazing
I won't deny the fact that the title made me think of Dumbo the flying elephant but I had a little hint that there would be a child in the story and I was right about that part. But reading this book wasn't really easy for me. Yes, I had encountered numerous novels about teenagers and adults dealing with mental disorder but never of a nine year old boy with a bipolar disorder. It was different and must be hard on Nate's part. It teared me up when I was reading about his agony.

On the other note,
Apr 01, 2015 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Most of the story was very believable, I especially liked the parts from Nate's perspective when he was experiencing his problems. Some parts from Ashley's perspective were heartbreaking as a parent. I enjoyed the book overall, although slightly less so than some of the other books I've read lately. I also found it ended quite abruptly and was a bit too happily-ever-after. (The abruptness is partly because I read it on my phone so didn't have a sense of how much of the book was remaining, but it ...more
Craig Wiesner
Jun 18, 2014 Craig Wiesner rated it really liked it
What is it like to be 9 years old and have a mental illness? What is it like to be a young child's parent and see your child saying and doing things that make no sense? This novel, based on a true story, took me directly into the heads and hearts of mother and child on a roller coaster ride which, despite the really bad moments, made me want to say "Again!"

This a powerful look into bi-polar disorder through the eyes of a child, his parents, and all those around him.

Having been touched personal
Jun 12, 2014 Dana rated it really liked it
Nine year old Nate's mental illness and it's impact on his family is explained in this book. Based on a true story and told alternately by Nate and by his mother, Ashley, we see both Nate's thought processes and how his parents try to come to grips with the fact that there is something wrong with their beautiful child. Ashley is an overworked advertising executive and honestly, I found the first parts of the story by her about her work to be boring. The rest of the book, however, is intriguing ...more
May 28, 2014 Tara rated it it was amazing
This book grabbed my attention on the first page and continued to hold my interest at every turn. I love a story that paints a picture so vividly that your senses are heightened. As the details of the story unfold, emotions are described in such a way that I felt as if I was really there. I could feel my heart race as my eyes moved quickly over the pages much like a mother would be racing to find her child or the boy that feels lost with a heightened anxiety. There was a sense of urgency. This ...more
Sep 08, 2014 Sue1958 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
What a powerful and emotive courageous story.

Mental health is not understood, so it strikes fear in a lot of people.

This little boys Mother is hard working and her husband stays home to look after the children. Mom thinks and feels there is something not quite right with Nate, so when she brings this up with her husband Pete, he doesn't want to listen, he doesn't want to accept what she is saying. This is a typical reaction in most families, its a case of head in sand, its not there.

A Mother's
Sep 23, 2014 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book dealt well with the subject matter of mental illness in a child. It is about a child being finally diagnosed with it, how he deals with it, and how his parents deal with it. The book did a good job showing the different sides of it. I couldn't imagine the feeling of having it or being the parents of a child having a mental illness. However, having had a child who had special needs and health needs, I can relate a little bit to the parents. Bottom line: A parent will do whatever they ...more
Aug 29, 2014 Darren rated it it was amazing
Not many of us remember our emotions and feelings when we were nine years old, yet author Heather Clark seems to capture the moments with precision and clarity. The Elephant in the Sky is a heartwarming journey which takes readers back and forth, from mother to son perspectives. Young Nate is struggling to fit in a seemingly cold world, while mother Ashley is too busy with a high-paced career to follow her maternal instincts. The thread that is barely holding Nate's life together begins to ...more
Apr 17, 2015 Kira rated it it was amazing
If you ever wonder how much love a mother can have and give and how much a healthy and honest relationship between a couple with their kids impact the lives of those who suffer from mental illness you will love to read this book.

Nate's world is the world of so many we don't even realize how hard is for them or their families. Ashley is presented with all the conflicting thoughts a successful woman who wants a family also goes through and Pete is just Pete ;-)

One of the best books I have read th
May 25, 2016 Marta rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this novel, and the author being from Ontario was enticing all on its own.

A novel written from the perspective of mother and 9yr old son... At the brink of discovery of a potential mental health issue.

The novel felt a little dry; while written in detail and honesty I was still lacking "more"... More insight perhaps? More emotion? Just more. Without that little bit of extra, this novel read more like a journal and was actually quite tiring to get through... Thus, I made it
Mar 13, 2016 Kereth rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The story switches between nine year old Nate's perspective and his mother Ashley. I found this book to be engrossing in that Heather Clark tackled the tough topic of mental illness. We still have too many stigmas surrounding this topic and I found the 2 points of view to be a great way to bring you into their world. I liked reading Nate's take on his life but had a hard time relating to Ashley. I found the novel was a little one dimensional when reading the mother's story. I would have liked ...more
Jen Crouch
Feb 26, 2015 Jen Crouch rated it it was amazing
I liked this book a lot. It offers an interesting perspective on childhood mental illness. For those who think it wasn't realistic enough or that the child was misdiagnosed or something, I can tell you that in my experience talking to parents whose kids have some issues, the book seemed to ring true. The most unrealistic part was probably the ease with which the child received care. Too many parents who don't have a ton of money or the ability to take huge chunks of time off from work struggle ...more
Diane Charron
Mar 30, 2015 Diane Charron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly gripping story (based on true events) that brings mental illness into the forefront. The author takes you inside the brain of a nine year old child who has a mental disorder, and inside the heads and hearts of his loving parents who are both frantic to protect him and scared to face reality. It takes you into the workings of a psychiatrist as she works with the entire family in trying to reach a happy ending.

At times gut wrenching to read but impossible to put down. A book that will sta
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Heather currently lives in Oakville, ON with her husband, three children and miniature wiener dog, Duke. When not writing, Heather enjoys reading, travelling, spending time with her family and drinking red wine with her girlfriends.
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