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A Sky for Us Alone

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  153 ratings  ·  36 reviews
In Strickland County, there isn’t a lot of anything to go around. But when eighteen-year-old Harlowe’s older brother is killed by the Praters, the family who runs everything—from the mines to the law—in his rural Appalachian town, he learns that loss is the one thing that’s never in short supply.

Then Harlowe meets Tennessee on her first day in town, and for the first time
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books
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Izzy Definitely. The plot focuses on two teens living in a poor rural town falling in love.

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Average rating 3.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  153 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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☯~☽~•Patricia Mainard•~☾~☯
I absolutely loved this book! This is my first book by this author, and it definitely will not be my last.
Joleen (starlightbooktales)
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: edelweiss
Received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

2 Stars

In a small town such as Strickland Country, there isn’t much of a future unless you belong to the all-powerful Prater family. When Harlowe, a young boy witnesses one of the Praters kill his only brother, he makes it his mission to find answers. While his obsession for answers grows, so does his love for new girl Tennesse, who has her own troubles. Together Tennessee and Harlowe forge their own path and discover the answers th
Sep 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
I don't know how I feel. I'm conflicted about the ending and the entire story. I was expecting something different in the story. I was a little upset when the story would pick up but it just stayed in a steady pace for the entire book. I liked the characters and how everyone had secrets or problems. I liked how the Harlowe's family had problems and struggled to stay together. I hated Tennessee's father because he was just an asshole. I kinda thought the book could have gone in more in-depth. I t ...more
”’You’ll find out soon enough that all you can do in life is choose the best way to take care of yourself and your own. Simple as that.’”

What a strange little book.

Life in Strickland County is hard. There’s just no nice way to put it. No one knows that fact more than Harlowe Compton. With his older brother dead and his mother pulled into the cycle of narcotics addiction, he doesn’t have a whole lot going for them. Add that to the bitter poverty that surrounds him and not a whole lot of opt
Samantha (WLABB)
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, ya, contemporary
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I have complicated feelings about this one. It was dark and gritty and there are a lot of sad parts with murder, addiction, and a community seemingly at the mercy of a demented man, who is poisoning their land. But there were these lovely bright spots, like the Draughns, Omie, Tennessee, Nuna, and even Red, and I was absorbed in Harlowe finding the answers to all his questions regarding his brother's murder. Given the darkness that surrounded a majority of this book, I was grate
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
Rating this 3.5 stars. I honestly loved the tone of the writing. It was a nice break from all the fantasy I've been reading lately. It had just enough story to keep me turning pages. I was rooting for Harlowe from the start and I'm glad he got his happy ending. Not the exact happy ending I was hoping for, but it wrapped up the story really well. ...more
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs, ya, 2018
Sorry, this just wasn't good. Bad pacing, horrible dialogue, characters I didn't care about at all (and truly forgot who was who because they weren't memorable).

His brother's murdered body is dropped on their front porch, they bury him the next day, and then later THAT DAY, kid falls head-over-heels for the new girl in town? Like, I know teens are fickle, but THE SAME DAY?
Sandie, Teen Lit Rocks
Very much in the vein (although not as breathtaking) as Jeff Zentner's work. I appreciate books that are set in rural towns, and stories about Appalachian teens are so few and far between. The pacing is slow, and there are several unanswered questions, but it was still worth reading, and I think the author has a good bit of potential. ...more
Taylor Williams
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book! I liked that there were enough characters to make a complex story but not too many that you couldn’t keep them straight. I also liked that it was in such a unique setting for YA— a poor, mining town full of drugs and people manipulating the law. Very glad I picked this up from the library and read it in a day.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Kristin Russell’s A SKY FOR US ALONE begins with the protagonist, Harlowe, celebrating his 18th birthday. Harlowe has invited everyone he cares about from his brother, Nate, his best friend, Jacob, and Mama Draughn --- someone who acts more like a mother to him than his own. Nate gifts him with new equipment for his future woodworking business, something Harlowe and Nate have been dreaming about for years.

As the party slowly winds down, everyone begins to go their separate ways and Harlowe heads
Julie Stauss
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Some of the choices we make on this journey are good and some bad but we do have to deal with choice made.
Ally Renell
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Not bad, a grim depiction of a small town on the brink of falling apart. I think some side characters could have been developed more and the ending seemed a little rushed. The brother's motivation wasn't super clear to me either. A decent debut novel, I'd be interested in seeing what she does next. ...more
BAYA Librarian
Kristin Russell’s debut novel is a rare glimpse of young adulthood in Southern Appalachia. Newly eighteen, Harlowe Compton is looking for a way out of Strickland County. He’s hoping to avoid the ever-dwindling, rough work of the mines and rampant opioid use that permeates his homeland. When his older brother is murdered, Harlowe finds himself searching for answers to uncover the truth about his brother. Harlowe finds hope and a burgeoning love interest in the new-to-town, Tennessee.

Bleak and oft
Anna Mendoza
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
An amazing debut from Kristin Russell, A Sky for Us Alone is the story of Harlowe's journey from boy to man in a backwoods town where the townsfolk have only three choices; work in the Prater's mines, make drug runs for the Praters, or just shut up and stay out of their way. After his brother shows up dead on his doorstep and the new foreman's daughter has more going on than she's letting on, Harlowe embarks on a journey to find the truth about what's going on in his town and decide if he's goin ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a coming of age novel set in the hills of Appalachia.
The problems that are unique to the area (Like "Yellow Boy", a river of poison from the mines) and problems that are everywhere, (Drugs, greed and misery) come together in this story.
The man child hero is really a hero.. proven by many events but really capped by the wisdom he shows when his girlfriend is deciding to leave or to stay.
Good book.
Mike Page
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Coming of age story that's just OK. Some great moments, but the mystery isn't compelling (or hard to figure out), the emotional stakes are fairly low or low cost, and he action moves too quickly to raise the tension. The characters are fleshed out OK, but there's still some depth lacking.

Overall just a decent story.
Sherry Guice
I really liked the story line--drug abuse/dealing in rural Kentucky with teenagers caught up in adult problems...the writing was stiff and awkward...something didn't ring true with dialogue and some of the characters were flat with too much virtue even though the author tried. Maybe just tried too hard so the narrative voice was off. ...more
Elisha Jachetti
Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it
A SKY FOR US ALONE by Kristin Russell is a YA coming-of-age novel filled with mystery and heartache. It’s set in a poor section of Appalachia that’s run by the mines and the man who owns them. When Nate, Harlowe’s older brother, starts searching for a way to get out, he ends up with a bullet through the chest. Determined to figure out why Nate was killed, Harlowe sets out on a mission to uncover the truth, but gets sidetracked when he meets Tennessee, a beautiful girl with her own problems. Thou ...more
Kelly Hager
There are two stories here: the town and the opioid crisis, mixed with poverty and health problems, and the love story with Harlowe and Tennessee. I really enjoyed the first part; it was captivating and devastating. The love story aspect distracted me and, for me at least, seemed like it was thrown in because contemporary YA novels have to have a love story. (This is not true but it feels like some imprints and authors insist it is.)

I love the first aspect, though. You could feel the desperation
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a slow burn for took me a little bit to fall in love with the characters but when I did it was hard.
Harlowe is stuck in a town that is controlled by one powerful family; when his brother is killed by this family it is just another tragic incident in a long line of tragedies. Harlowe has resigned himself to the fact that he isn't getting out of Strickland County and that everything his parents deal with he will have to deal with....that is until he meets Tennessee Moore. Te
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teenscene
The setting of this book is like nothing else I've read. As a West-Coaster, before I read this I would have assumed Appalachia was a foreign country but NOPE it's in the US even if it does read like another country. I'd also read the Loretta Lynn biography around the same time and it was incredible to put these two books together to frame a place in the country I never really knew existed.

That said...

The book started with a bang (dead brother? intrigue!) then slowed down for a bit before I was r
Erin Quinn
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really appreciate books that let me have a glimpse into a way of life I have no experience with. A peek into rural Appalachia, this book deals with topics that no doubt are things people who live in that place are dealing with, like poverty, what happens when the mines close down, and drugs. Unfortunately, though the issues were real, the author just didn’t do a great job executing. The characters were forgettable, pacing was way off, and the plot was unbelievable, and not in a good way.

Scott Laudati
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was what I was hoping the show Ozark would be - a real taste of rural life spiked with oxycontins, blood feuds, nature, love, family and dirt. We've got a main character kid (Harlowe) who's impossible not to like, he deals with family problems (a dead brother, a drug addicted mother), love, a dying town, and ultimately the battle his town faces against a ruthless mine owner. I think the message is that not everyone is born close to the finish line, but with determination and grit you m ...more
Brittany | Bee the Booknerd
I enjoyed the overall grittiness of this novel, but found the characters to be lacking a little depth. Also, Harlowe pretty much immediately falls for Tenessee which is not unusual in YA, but their romance felt like it was entirely dependent on their shitty families. Like, they couldn't just love each other for each other, they had to love each other to make up for the lack of love in their families.

review here:
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think this book has a lot to offer. The protagonist is likeable and the plot is pretty interesting. I like that the chapters are short. I think it touches on some subject matter that will engage teen readers, such as drug use, drug dealing, death and romance. There are some realistic elements and some stereotypes but all in all I think it’s a pretty good book. It reads a bit like a mystery or suspense but also as a coming of age story.
Nakesha Brown
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Although it felt a bit disjointed at times, it was pretty good. I liked the idea of the book from the synopsis and I was into the story of Harlowe and Tennessee but the pacing was a little off in my opinion. I don't have a problem with insta-love within YA so that didn't bother me but some of the other things that happened throughout were unrealistic. ...more
Chelsea Bashore
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This was just ok for me. I like the premise of this, Appalachian mountain families, struggles, mystery around death... but some of it moved to quickly and some of it moved to slow. I want my students to see healthy relationships and this one jumped into "this is forever" in a matter of a few weeks. ...more
Jessica Arnold
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
DNF at about the halfway mark. Not sure whether it was the Appalachian way of speaking or choppy writing that I couldn’t connect with, but there definitely felt like too many storylines were fighting for a place, and the author couldn’t decide which to the end result was that none felt well-developed or coherent.
Arrow Nox
Jan 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF at page 50

I'm sorry but I could only think of one word for fifty pages: painful. Nothing clicked, I had no idea what was going on, and I couldn't even understand how many characters I was working with.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult
This book tried to do too many things at once, and failed at all of them. There's too much going on with the brother's murder, a corrupt police force, the impact of the mines, the love story, the opioid drug crisis, the love story. Nothing was well developed or resolved in any real way. ...more
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