Powerful, poignant, and oh-so-needed for teens.


Skyy is used to being overshadowed by her best friend, Lay Li. Lay judges Skyy for wearing different clothes than her and not liking “normal teen-girl” things. She doesn’t defend Skyy when others make fun of her. Everywhere the two go, Skyy is invisible in the presence of the confident and beautiful Lay. Even though Lay is not a good friend, Skyy struggles to let her go, as Skyy is also dealing with a dad in prison, a hateful half-sister, Essa, and a mother who is always busy working to provide for them. In addition, Skyy grapples with being a Black woman and the effects of poverty.

Eventually, Skyy finds her own hobbies: swimming and basketball. The only place she feels seen is when she is on the court, beating boys who think she shouldn’t be playing. She also likes to go to the community pool and float on the water, staring at the clouds. When Lay and Skyy's friendship reaches the point where they are not speaking to each other, Skyy begins to reflect on their friendship and share her worries about not seeing Lay anymore with some of her new friends. She even explores dating Clifton, a neighborhood boy.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (15):
Chlorine Sky is a coming-of-age novel focusing on self-discovery by concentrating on yourself and not catering to others. Skyy eventually determines her worth without the opinions of society. In Chlorine Sky, Browne discusses topics related to sexism, colorism, and broken relationships. Navigating friendship breakups are not always talked about, and are very common in middle and high school. This book does an amazing job portraying how hard they could be and the process of finding yourself outside of your ex-friend. It teaches us that sometimes friendships don’t work out and can cause us pain, yet it is important to move on and let it go. Skyy learns lessons about herself and relationships throughout the book and it is an emotional and touching story.

This book is written in poems which makes the story even more vivid and captivating. Jealousy, misunderstanding, and hurtful words are captured powerfully. The complex relationship between Lay and Skyy is the main theme of the verses and they are very well written. I was hoping for a little more context around Skyy’s family situation but overall enjoyed the book thoroughly.

I recommend this book for those fourteen and older, as it explores mature topics such as sexual assault and bullying.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers will find this story engaging and powerful. Even if you don't like stories in verse, you won't be able to put this one down. 

Content Awareness Factors:

References to sex, sexual abuse, and drugs. 

Type of Book:
This is a coming-of-age story of a girl navigating a friendship breakup.
Educational Themes:

This is a coming-of-age story that is nuanced and very real. The verse presentation keeps it moving but doesn't take away from its powerful impact. Let young readers take the lead in talking about this book. There are so many elements that will resonate with them - and create opportunities for conversation. 

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
Recommended Age To Read Together:
13 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer's Age: 15
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. You'll read it again and again.

Title Chlorine Sky: A Novel
Author Mahogany L. Brown
Publisher Crown Books for Young Readers, Imprint Penguin Random House Canada © 2021
ISBN 9780593176399
Material Hard Cover
Cost $18.99
Genres Poetry, Sports, Coming of Age, Realism | Realistic Fiction
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