Today we welcome animal advocate and author Ondine Sherman to Booklover Book Reviews to share with us the story behind her new young adult novel Sky.
After her mother’s death, Sky is forced to leave her city life behind and move in with her aunt and uncle in a small Australian town. But the city isn’t all that she leaves behind. Trying to fit in with her new friends means doing things she never dreamt she’d do. And falling for the school queen’s crush is the least of her worries when she’s confronted by tightly guarded family secrets.
Just as she thinks everything is starting to feel normal, Sky stumbles on a case of animal cruelty that forces her to make some tough decisions. Will Sky risk everything to stand up for what she believes in?
Sometimes you have to lose everything to find yourself.
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Sky developed as a character slowly and, in a weird way, I got to know her inside my head like making a new (imaginary!) friend. It was my first time writing a fiction book, and I just loved how it took over my brain. I’d think about Sky at random times in the day while I was shopping for groceries, walking the dogs and cleaning my teeth, imagining things she would say and do.
Sky’s probably, in equal parts: me; my daughter Jasmine; who I would have aspired to be as a teen and; who I would have loved as a best friend.
I was a sensitive young thing (my brother said ‘over-sensitive!’) and Sky is the same. But being sensitive, and a little introverted, often makes people especially empathetic to the suffering of others. And Sky’s sensitivity brings her closer to animals makes her tuned in to their needs and feelings, and, ultimately, connecting her with people who share her values of kindness and compassion. But Sky is way more courageous than I was when I was young. Facing huge pressures, grief and other obstacles she has to find a way to stay true to herself and that’s tough for anyone, especially in high-school.
I dedicated the book to my daughter Jasmine who is only twelve, but a real inspiration for the character – sweet as silan (that’s a delicious honey made from dates) but not afraid to be true to her own unique self.
Now I love Sky so much, I want to keep writing her, thinking of her, being her, and I’m working on my second book in the series. Her next stop is Alaska and her adventures are far from finished. I can’t wait to share book two with everyone soon.
If Sky had been in my high-school, I would have loved to have been her friend. She’s sensitive, thoughtful, tough and ultimately authentic. And most of all, she cares deeply about animals and will take big risks to help protect them.
I was inspired to write Sky because, as a teen, few people could understand my dedication (or some may say, obsession!) to helping animals.
I learnt about industrialised animal cruelty when I was very young, shortly after I became vegetarian at seven. When I discovered that 70 billion animals are ‘farmed’ for food, the majority locked in cruel factory farms never allowed to express their natural behavior, I felt overwhelmed and devastated. And then, I learnt about the destruction of our planet – the widespread deforestation, poaching, and wildlife trade that was leaving species on the edge of survival. I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to try and make a difference.
Young people have great power to change our world for the better. They have the passion and idealism that often gets lost in adulthood, or buried in our day-to-day stresses and responsibilities. I hope Sky is a character that readers can relate to and, by seeing the world through Sky’s eyes, they will understand why animals need our voice today more than ever and have more confidence to speak out on their behalf.
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Proceeds from the sale of this novel will support the work of Voiceless, The Animal Protection Institute.
About the Author, Ondine Sherman
Ondine is a life-long animal advocate, and is passionate about promoting respect and compassion for all creatures. In 2004, she and her father, Brian Sherman AM, founded Voiceless; the organisation is now one of Australia’s leading animal protection groups. And Ondine’s social-media platform, Franimals, has become a popular community for animal-loving teens across the globe.
Ondine’s first book, The Miracle of Love, was published in 2013 and is an intimate account of her experiences as the mother of beautiful identical twin boys who have who have a rare genetic disorder. Ondine’s journey with her boys has ultimately led to love, hope and acceptance.
Ondine grew up in Sydney and now lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and three children. Her three mischievous street cats, two loyal dogs and a sweet ex-battery chicken all keep her extraordinarily entertained.