David Litwack’s novel, The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky, is a moving tale that revolves around love, hope, and redemption.
The novel starts out with Helena Brewster. Her father recently passed away and in an attempt to feel closer to him she decides to sit near the ocean where he used to take her. While there she sees Jason Adams, someone from her childhood who she was close to at some point, but they lost touch.
One day, Helena is waiting for Jason to run by and when he does moments later a boat crashes into the rocks. Jason and Helena rescue a young girl who claims to be “The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky.” The girl won’t explain why she ventured from The Blessed Lands to The Republic. The two governments, after years of warfare between the two, don’t see eye to eye. The Republic is based on reason and they are mistrustful of any person who might preach the ways of The Blessed Lands. Kailani poses a threat and Carlson, the chief examiner, sequesters the young girl. Both Jason and Helena are horrified when they learn she’s been imprisoned and feel responsible for her since they rescued her. Carlson releases Kailani to their care as long as they promise to keep her away from people so she can’t preach.
The two take The Daughter to The Northern Kingdom, where they hope to keep her out of harm’s reach at an artists’ colony. However, one of the residents is a fanatic and is enraptured by Kailani. He thinks she’s not only his savior but the savior of The Republic. What will happen to Kailani and why did a child travel all the way to a foreign land to seek redemption?
For the majority of the novel, the reader doesn’t know much about Kailani, and her true motive is shrouded in secrecy. This captivating mystery will keep many readers up late at night so they can figure out why the perplexing young girl is intent on doing penance and why she’s determined to help the soulless in The Republic. Is she just a child, or is she a prophet?
Litwack’s world might seem completely foreign at first glance, but he carefully weaves aspects of today’s society into his story giving the reader some connection. It’s clear that the author took his time constructing this story and that he didn’t want to force his opinions upon the reader. Writing a novel about complete faith versus no faith whatsoever risks coming across as a firm supporter of one side and demonizing the other. However, in his character Kailani, he demonstrates the hope that the two sides don’t have to be enemies. Coexistence is possible.
The story is riveting and yet not a lot of action takes place. This may sound baffling since many readers are always clamoring for more drama. But the intrigue surrounding Kailani is the glue that holds the whole story together. At some points there are weaknesses in the story, such as Jason, apparently brilliant with computers, doesn’t realize that someone is sending messages from his computer, but these lapses are whisked away by the charming young girl’s tale. She dazzles all those she meets in the story, including the reader.
The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky is a captivating read that will enthrall many readers. The bittersweet ending will make many think about what’s important in this world on both an individual and universal level. Recommended.