Friday, April 15, 2022

Book Review: An Upside-Down Sky

By Marisa Appleton

Picture this: eighteen different people, all on this trip for very different reasons. Namyan has recently opened for tourism. This group departs on one of the first tours of the country, visiting pagodas, monasteries, and other famous landmarks. Each character offers a different perspective on American life; they represent the American population. In the group there are straight, gay, gender-fluid, black, brown, white, progressive, conservative, artistic, repressed, old, young people. Every character has a good and bad side, no one is perfect! The story mainly focuses on Lars and Catty Vonderville and their friend Lidia DeCampos as they visit the sights of Namyan as they make new friends – and enemies – along the way. Each character has a secret, a part of their lives that they don’t wish for anyone else to find out. 

Linda Dahl represents American society in this novel. In a documentary style, she tells the story of eighteen different people on one of the first tours of Namyan – a fictional country based on Myanmar (formerly Burma). This is a country whose history is flooded with war and genocide so when tourism finally opens the industry booms. 

I really enjoyed reading this novel. While it is quite different to my normal reads, I loved the variety of the characters. While having too many main characters doesn’t normally work, Dahl makes it work. Each character has a different reason for being on the trip. Clint and Betsy Hodges won the trip at an auction, Ed and Ann Boren are here because Ed is an entomologist (bug collector), and Klaus Haynes is here to write for his blog. Before the story starts, Dahl introduces the characters in an almost documentary style. She outlines their names, characters, reasons for being on the trips and even their nicknames. The nicknames are all mean, derogatory names given to them by the other characters. I found this guide to the characters very helpful. With there being eighteen different people to keep track of, it can be quite confusing. This guide meant you had something clear to skip back to and refresh your memory. I enjoyed how the story had different perspectives. While it does focus on particular characters, the story mainly focuses of Lidia and her friends Lars and Catty, the story also offers insights into the lives of other characters. 

The trip starts off smooth, but it quickly goes downhill. Many illnesses and accidents plague the guests, causing additional stress for Thila – the tour leader. The tour almost seems cursed when guests bicker, argue, get injured and even accidentally take psychedelic drugs! Differing opinions cause rifts within the groups, and rightly so when racism and homophobic language is used! A love story unfolds between an unlikely pair, Lidia and Klaus. They both need each other on this trip to move past their previous struggles at home. Dahl ends the novel with a similar review of the characters that were at the start. I enjoyed this way of wrapping up the novel. It really pulled all the characters together. It is worth the read if you are interested in a travel novel that also contains themes of love, friendship and politics.

Thanks to BookSparks for the book in exchange for an honest review. Purchase An Upside-Down Sky here.

More by Linda Dahl:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

No comments: