By Cynthia Ayala
Jason and Helena were once inseparable in their youth, but time and fate sent them in their different directions. Now a young girl from the Blessed Lands is pulling them together. Kailani, a nine-year-old girl who calls herself the Daughter of the Sea and the Sky, a zealot who sees the world differently than they do is opening their minds and hearts, threatening the world they live in.
Published on May 19, 2014 by Evolved Publishing, The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky is a young adult tale by David Litwack about a world divided by war of religion and rational thought.
There are two major problems with this novel: pace and characterization. First off, it was a well-written novel. The sentences flow, they were constructed well and brought the scenes to life, but it wasn’t beautiful enough to really draw in the language. Given the cover, the writers’ language could have been as beautiful and creative as that, but the language is, at best, mediocre. It doesn’t stand out and with the pace of the novel being what it is, something about the language should strike a nerve, it should draw the novel out, but the language is just plain. Not badly written, but fairly forgettable. And with a text on the subject of secular versus non secular there were many opportunities for the language to be expressive, emotional, daring and lyrical. Litwack doesn’t employ any of those techniques in this novel, and that really slows down the plot to a crawl.
This is such a slow novel following a young couple as they not only deal with their inner demons but also connect to one another by reopening their cracked hearts. All the focus is on the little girl that the romance in the novel gets pushed aside. It starts as if the novel will be about Helena and Jason reconnecting through everything that they have been through, but that becomes a somewhat nonexistent plot point that is constantly addressed but never actually focused on. All the focus is on Kailani, her religious belief, and how she is effecting those around her. Now hearing Kailani’s dialogue is interesting because she’s a young girl, nine-years-old and the way Litwack writes her is very believable. How she acts and how she interprets the world so matter-of-factly combined with imagination makes her a believable character. So reading the interactions with her are enjoyable. However, those are the only real moments in the novel because all the other characters are all incredible narrow minded, and they come off that way by constantly imposing their ideals and their beliefs on Kailani. There is the constant buzzing of “I know best because I am an adult” tone in the novel, and it comes off as annoying. It’s obvious that everyone in their own ways cares about the little girl but no one is listening to her. Instead, they are disconnecting from everyone and their belief system. No one is really listening to one another and that creates a very disjointed dynamic between the characters. Characterization is not done well in this novel and their dynamics are not strong enough to hold the story together.
The pace creates the idea that something extraordinary is going to happen, but the ending, while sweet, it a letdown. Just as the pace begins to speed up near the end of the novel, there is some idea given the events that something is going to happen, something spectacular that is going to redefine a whole world that has separated itself. Then it just falls flat. Nothing spectacular happens in the novel and that’s disappointing. It is a sweet novel about how important having hope and faith, especially after loss and heartbreak, but that idea also isn’t blow up. Again, it comes off as more of a side note.
With such powerful ideas concerning the secular versus non-secular ideals, there is so much that the author could have done regarding characterization, story and language, but unfortunately, the author fails to capitalize on any of that and delivers bland and tediously slow story. (★★☆☆☆ | C-)