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 Adult Romance 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
, 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. There are currently six books in the series. The first four are from Skylar's perspective the last two are from Rafael's.
Gives Light contains examples of:
- Allegory Adventure: In a very loose sense. Skylar compares himself and Rafael to Daphnis and Pan.note
- 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.
- Badass Bookworm: Rafael is tough, brooding and loves to read.
- Badass Gay: Rafael, again. He is physically strong, and can certainly stand up for himself (and those he cares about) as Zeke finds out.
- Bilingual Bonus: When Skylar gives a pair of windchimes to Shaman Quick as a present, the shaman says something to him in Shoshone, which Skylar doesn't understand. note The shaman is actually saying, "Violet? Thank you." Presumably, the windchimes were violet in color. But Violet was the name of Shaman Quick's daughter, who, like Skylar's mom, was murdered by Rafael's dad.
- Blind Musician: Skylar learns to play a plains flute Rafael made for him and apparently gets quite good at it. Skylar is mute, not blind, but the trope plays out the same.
- Book Dumb: Skylar mentions several times that he has no interest in reading at all.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Lila Little Hawk can be very impudent, Skylar often refers to her as bratty, although with affection.
- Brooding Boy, Gentle Boy: Rafael is brooding and reclusive. Skylar is gentle and outgoing.
- Lampshaded by Rafael himself.
"I don't mope. I brood."
- Chocolate Baby: Skylar is not Paul's biological son. There's relatively little angst over this.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Dr. Stout, as well as the shaman's granddaughter.
- Coming-of-Age Story
- Cool Old Lady: Catherine and Nola. Catherine's (Skylar's Grandmother) reaction to him getting a tattoo is first to ask if Rafael did it, then say to Skylar to tell Rafael she wants a yellow rose.
- Declaration of Protection: Rafael towards Skylar.
"I won't let anyone take you away. I won't let anyone hurt you. I'll protect you. I'll always protect you. I don't care how. I just will."
- The Dividual: Despite having very different personalities and bickering often, the At Dawn twins are never apart and usually addressed at the same time.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Aubrey is very polite, friendly and an all round nice guy with a crush on Annie. He gets the girl.
- 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.
- The Imp: Skylar. As thoughtful as he is, he's also playful and mischievous.
- Ineffectual Loner: Rafael is largely a loner at first, even at the evening meals in which the whole reservation gathers, Skylar notes him sitting apart from the others. It's partly due to being judged for his fathers crimes by certain members of the community, and partly because he's dealing with his own pain and feelings of betrayal, and is aware of how the others largely feel about him, and can be very moody and defensive as a result. He reacts with confusion and surprise when Skylar starts making overtures of friendship.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold : Rafael is often isolated by his peers and even by some of the adults, and is viewed by many in a very negative way because of his fathers crimes. But although he has a temper, he is very protective and loyal towards those he cares about, does not intend to harm anyone, and leaves memorial drawings on the graves of his fathers 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.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Rafael's ability to "hear" Sky. The last book explicitly gives Rafael empathic powers.
- Mr. Imagination: Rafael.
- Nature Lover: Rafael loves the terrain and knows it like the back of his hand. It's to such a degree that he hates being indoors for too long and becomes irritable when he's indoors.
- Never Mess with Granny: Skylar's grandmother, She comes across as pretty gruff and strict much of the time, and although she does show a softer side towards Skylar on occasion, he notes very early on that she is not someone it would be wise to cross.
- The Nicknamer: Grandpa Little Hawk has odd nicknames for all of Annie's friends. Skylar's is "Nancy."
- The Nineties / Turn of the Millennium: The story takes place during the summer of 2000, and it shows. Skylar's dad uses a beeper to contact him when he's on the run.
- Not Good with People: Rafael, it seems he was pretty isolated for much of his childhood after his father was revealed as a serial killer, and remained so right up until Skylar befriended him, as a result he is socially awkward, pretty shy underneath his brooding exterior and not used to interacting with people socially. He gets better.
- 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.
- Romantic False Lead: The unnamed Navajo girl, for both boys. Skylar dances with her at the summer pauwau and Rafael gets jealous. Skylar mistakenly believes that Rafael is interested in her.
- Rule of Symbolism: The atlas moth tattoo that Rafael gives to Skylar obviously represents Skylar himself.note
- 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.
- Scenery Porn: Frequently. See the page quote.
- Secondary Character Title: "Gives Light" is Rafael's last name.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Skylar being the sensitive guy, and Rafael the tough one.
- 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.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Annie and Lila Little Hawk, Annie is thoughtful, quiet, and conscientious, while her younger sister Lila is impish and cheeky. Also, the At Dawn twins, one being bubbly and lively, and the other solemn and serious.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Annie towards Aubrey, although Skylar has to point out Aubreys attraction to Annie first, as Annie too distracted with everything going on in her family life, seems fairly oblivious to begin with.
- 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.
- Stepford Smiler: Skylar. Rafael even tells him he smiles too much.
- 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.
- Straight Gay: Neither Skylar nor Rafael fit the gay stereotype.
- Street Smart: Skylar, who knows enough about the law to circumvent it (at times) and also keeps a hidden stash of money.
- Sweet Tooth: Rafael has a big one.
His stomach was the approximate size and shape of a garbage disposal, I thought, and even a shark's teeth weren't as big as his sweet tooth.
- Troubled, but Cute: Rafael gets into fistfights constantly. Usually because his peers only remember him for his father's crimes.
- The Voiceless: Played with, as the Plains Shoshone are culturally private people, which often leaves poor Skylar in the dark about important plot happenings.