[Book Review] Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa

Kicking the SkyOne of the (many) reasons why I love operating a book blog is because it allows me to share with you my thoughts on a novel in more than 140 characters. Anthony De Sa’s book is one that I can’t wait to talk about with each and every one of you. It has heart, it’s set in Toronto and it oozes with creativity.

Admittedly, when I started Kicking the Sky, I knew very little about the horrific events that took place in 1977 involving a young boy named Emanuel Jaques (often referred to as the shoeshine boy). Anthony’s novel gives a fictional account of this story by introducing us to a boy by the name of Antonio Rebelo and sharing with us his account of the crime and the effects it had on the Portugal community. I strongly urge each of you to check out the Wikipedia page surrounding this crime to refresh your mind or (in my case) educate yourself. Having some background knowledge will help to enhance your reading experience.

In the year 1977, parents didn’t need to fret about their child’s whereabouts or if they were in before it got dark. That is, until Emanuel Jaques went missing. When a twelve year old boy disappears, any parent would hit the panic button. Children were automatically robbed of their innocence and freedom and were placed in lockdown to ensure that nothing bad would happen to them. Using this crime as the basis of Kicking the Sky, Anthony De Sa shares with us a story told from the perspective of a young boy and his two best friends to provide a personal account of how children reacted during this difficult time. The main character, Antonio is also Portuguese, so the reader also begins to experience the tragedy that this placed on their community. Feeling like one of their own had been targeted creates a dynamic voice and leaves you with your skin crawling.

Antonio and his friends set out to discover who’s responsible for committing such a crime (without their parents knowledge of course). But as the mystery starts to unfold and answers begin to surface, the reality of the crime proves to be way over their heads. This book reminded me of Anne Marie MacDonald’s The Way the Crow Flies and the movie ‘Stand By Me‘. Crime told from a child’s perspective gives readers a rare reading experience and Anthony De Sa does it brilliantly.

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4 comments

  1. Oh, this sounds fantastic. (And you’ve reminded me that I haven’t gotten around to Barnacle Love yet either.) Would you recommend reading about the event first for sure? I’m kinda obsessive about spoilers, but I can also see how, depending on the novel’s approach, how having background about a specific event could add to the reading experience too….

    1. Great question – I really enjoyed Barnacle Love, but it doesn’t need to be read to enhance your Kicking the Sky reading experience. They both stand alone well, but can work together should you choose that path. Kicking the sky is a beautiful book and every time I watch that book trailer, I want to drop everything I’m reading and start Kicking the Sky all over again. If you do pick either book up, please let me know as I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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