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Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne

“A compelling and fierce voice, Chlorine Sky is about strength, determination, and friendship. It is a novel that readers will be drawn to and be anxious for more.”

Cecelia Beckman, Sheaf & Ink

The Story

A raw story about a girl who is trying to find herself, realizes in that search of self, she begins to question why her best friend is her best friend. And in that exploration readers dive into the raw, gritty, and often heartbreaking experiences that bring her to the final conclusion.

My Review

I’m still wrapping my brain around how to discuss how much I enjoyed this book.

How exceptional each of these perfectly formulated verses that my eyes recently consumed.

So here goes:

Browne is a gifted poet.

One who uses her concise words to tell a poignant and powerful story in 175 pages.

And there were so many lines that I wanted to remember. That I wrote down in my journal for safe keeping. These lines are searing. Their delivery and the emotions are packed in the shape of a fist that can hammer into you after each verse, leaving you literally quite breathless.

“But Angel’s anger grew.

until it had legs,

arms,

and its own nervous system.”

Mahogany L. Browne, Chlorine Sky

You feel the loneliness keenly. The pain of being made fun of, or a rumor that’s making its rounds. Like the burning sting of chlorine in your eyes, coating your hair and skin after a long swim, all you want to do is wash it all away. To make it go away.

What’s even more upsetting is the who behind the meanness. Who are the ones causing the pain. And most often, it’s not just classmates, it is the people who are meant to be the main character’s life support: her family and closest friend, are the ones beating her down. Beating her with their poisonous words and actions, not batting an eye while saying or doing it.

Essa & Lay Li laughed & laughed & laughed & laughed & laughed

So long the hairs on my arm stood up electric

The air sizzled & a levee behind my eyes broke

Rivers & streams stream down my face I face them both”

Mahogany L. Browne, Chlorine Sky

More Thoughts

Often when I read, I look through the lens of a parent. And Browne, as a parent herself, adds this one chapter or section of the novel where you see the main characters parent. Her mothers perspective. And as she describes her mother it’s such a profoundly relatable moment. Where as a parent you come home from work and the last thing you want to do is more work because your children created it for you.

I couldn’t help but smile.

After reading “The Rules Are Easy.”

Not only is Chlorine Sky about finding your own voice and being comfortable for who you are, it also focuses on the bonds of friendship and how sometimes those bonds begin to fray and eventually shear off completely like wool from the backs of a sheep.

But what’s so thought provoking is the difficulty of letting that friendship go. Even if the relationship was toxic and one sided. There’s still a life time spent. Regardless if the years were few.

“Everybody wants to be a hero, but most of us

are just misunderstood villains.”

Mahogany L. Browne, Chlorine Sky

It’s challenging to break completely from the habit of being someone’s friend. It takes time an effort. For the main character Lay Li is someone she deeply cared for and invested time and energy in being around. Though, it’s not simply the routine of letting go of a person you figured knew you and saw you, it’s the physical ache of remembering that shared history with a person you thought deserved the title best before friend.

“It’s hard being friends with people

When you are still figuring out who you are.”

Mahogany L. Browne, Chlorine Sky

One Last Thought

With incredible use of metaphor, Browne’s brilliance in her beautiful prose is undeniably heartfelt as it is perceptive. Chlorine Sky is a book you should definitely pick up immediately and read.

“It hit me

like that big ass boat & the iceberg.”

Mahogany L. Browne, Chlorine Sky

Happy Reading  ̴ Cece

RATING: ink blotink blotink blotink blot – Exceptionally Inked


Author: Mahogany L. Browne

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: January, 2021

Pages: 178

ISBN-10: 0593176391

ISBN-13: 978-0593176399

Audience: 14+

Jacket Design: Ray Shappell & Torborg Davern

Jacket Art: Kgabo “Saint Rose” Mametja

You can find Chlorine Sky at Penguin Random House


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The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo

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Punching the Air, Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

Need More Book Recommendations?

Sheaf & Ink has reviewed a number of Young Adult novels in verse like Chlorine Sky. Read The Black Flamingo and Clap When You Land reviews to find your next favorite book and join the conversation. We love hearing from you.



The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta



Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

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This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. Cece Beckman

      Thank you so much for the mention in your review! So glad you enjoyed reading Chlorine Sky.

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