The sky tinged slowly blue-black with dawn, Rafael looking alert. The first sign of sunlight appeared above the horizon, dim, the color of saffron. It spread like wildfire into the night and lit the walls of drifting clouds, previously invisible, with a fiery haze. The sun was soon to follow, rosy when it peeked shyly above the distant cliffs and crags, white-gold when it caught up with its own aura. Now the sky was gritty and blue, like ocean slate—like Rafael's eyes.
A Young AdultRomance Novel by Rose Christo.Skylar St. Clair is mute as the result of an attack eleven years ago that claimed his mother's life. One day his father skips town without warning, and Skylar is forced to go live with the only relative he's got left, a grandma who lives on a Shoshone Indian Reservation.It turns out that Skylar was born on this reservation, and he's not very keen on going back. His mother was killed on the reservation when he was a small child, and as he quickly finds out, her killer left behind a teenage son named Rafael.Skylar and Rafael overcome their initial misgivings towards each other, to everyone's surprise, and over the course of the summer, they become best friends. And then they fall in love.Blends coming of age with mystery, as Skylar comes to grips not only with his new feelings, but with his cultural identity and the truth about where his father went and why his mother was killed all those years ago. Appears to be part of a planned trilogy.
Gives Light contains examples of:
Allegory Adventure: In a very loose sense. Skylar compares himself and Rafael to Daphnis and Pan.note Pan was the Greek god of nature. Daphnis was the son of a Sicilian nymph who abandoned him when he was a baby, leaving a group of caring shepherds to raise him. Daphnis was rendered blind by another jealous nymph. Pan took pity on him and taught him how to play the panpipes. When Pan heard the beautiful songs Daphnis created, Pan fell in love with him.
Alliterative Name: Skylar St. Clair, Christine St. Clair, Bethany Bright, Gabriel Gives Light, Liz Little Hawk, Lila Little Hawk, Mavis-Marie Whitler...
And I Must Scream: There are several times when Skylar needs to say or ask something crucially important, but can't. In a story about his childhood, he tells the reader that he once got locked in a school closet and screamed for help, but no one could hear him, and he wasn't found for hours.
Awesome McCoolname: Most of them, arguably, but Gabriel Gives Light and Summer Rose In Winter really stick out.
Einstein Hair: The shaman and his granddaughter both have this. Skylar says so outright in the narration.
Friend to All Living Things: Skylar loves animals and even bugs. He becomes very squeamish around dead or injured animals and won't eat meat.
Gayngst: Very notably averted. Skylar worries about what his father will think, but neither boy tries to deny the growing attraction, and their friends and family are all approving or indifferent. The label "gay" is never even used, except briefly by Annie.
Hidden Depths: Everyone thinks Rafael is a jerk like his dad, but he leaves memorial drawings at the graves of his dad's victims.
Luke Nounverber: Many of the Shoshone have names like this. Rafael Gives Light, Annie Little Hawk, Paul Looks Over, etc. Historically, this has something to do with Indian ancestors passing on their given names (and they were all theme named) as surnames to their later generations. Meredith Siomme and Morgan Stout are notable exclusions, but Meredith is half Hopi and the Stout family is implied to be mixed race.
Man Child: Thomas Little Hawk turns out to be something like this, because he's sustained brain damage from a stroke.
Matriarchy: The Plains Shoshone depicted in this story are matrilineal, like many Plains tribes are. Matrilineality is the reason Skylar has his mother's surname and not his dad's, although his mother was a white woman. In addition, most of the badasses in this book (including the leader of the tribe) are women.
The Perfect Crime: There is a legal loophole that allows Skylar's father to avenge the death of his wife, essentially getting away with murder. Specifically, the FBI can go to an Indian reservation and investigate a murder, but only if said murder happened on the reservation. It takes him eleven years to track him down, but Skylar's father kills Rafael's father in Newcastle, Wyoming before running back to Nettlebush to hide. And it looks like all the tribal elders were in on this from the start, but Skylar had no idea. Rafael suspected it all along, but mistakenly thought it happened a decade ago.
Quirky Curls: Skylar calls his hair "Little Orphan Annie hair," except that it's blond.
Rule of Symbolism: The atlas moth tattoo that Rafael gives to Skylar obviously represents Skylar himself.note When the atlas moth hatches from its cocoon, it emerges without a mouth. It starves to death within a couple of weeks.
Rafael has two tattoos on his arm and leg, both of which are chains. Every time he feels like he wants to hurt someone, and he has the time to stop himself, he adds a new chain link, preferring to hurt himself instead of becoming like his father.
In-Series Nickname: Skylar is called "Sky" by Rafael and "Cubby" by Paul, and neither one will ever call him by his actual name. Meredith also calls Skylar "Cubby." Skylar gives nicknames to some of his grandmother's friends, like "Ms. Sunflower" and "Mr. Sun Hat" depending on what they're wearing.
The Speechless: Skylar is mute. It's not psychological, however, it seems that his vocal folds never healed when they were cut by his mom's attacker. He can still whistle and sigh (but not laugh), as those sounds do not originate in the voicebox, and he sometimes uses this to playfully startle his friends.
The Stoic: Skylar, surprisingly. Because he's sunny and sensitive, he wouldn't seem like a likely candidate. However, in one of his flashbacks to his early childhood, a spoke went clean through his leg when he fell off his bicycle, and he didn't shed a tear. He is also resolved not to cry over his mother's memory.