I was reading something the other day that urged parents not to “forget about the kids” this Valentine’s Day. Maybe your kids will make grams for their friends or give their teachers boxes of chocolates, but while the day is all about love, the focus is usually on the romantic kind.
And although romantic love can be sweet and exhilarating, one of the most devastating side effects of a failed romantic relationship is when children are involved.
For the tweens in your life, especially those dealing with complicated family dynamics, Leslie C. Youngblood’s middle-grade novel, “Love Like Sky,” might be the valentine they need. This story is centered around 11-year-old Georgie (lovingly called G-baby by her family), who finds herself trying to reassure her baby sister Peaches building a relationship with her new teenage stepsister and, later, a serious illness that befalls Peaches.
Cozy nicknames, dialogue that crackles with voice and rhythm and a deep look into G-baby’s internal conflicts make these characters feel as palpable as the folks in your own family. The book doesn’t shy away from how ugly arguments between parents who once loved each other can get, and how those patterns conflict can trickle down into the relationships kids have with each other. “Love Like Sky” explores issues of loss and grief, of race and police brutality, of bullying and blame, but at its core is that age-old human desire of loving and belonging, no matter your age.
“Mama told me that a best friend was a relative that you make for yourself,” G-baby tells us. “I thought about that every time Nikki made me mad. I figured since I made her, I just might as well keep her.”
As she rides her bike through neighborhoods and across town, G-baby takes us on quite another kind of ride with her cutting insights and a kind of passionate determination that demonstrates what unconditional love looks like.
For more on “Love Like Sky,” visit books.disney.com/book/love-like-sky.