Stacey Lee's debut novel Under A Painted Sky came out yesterday, and everyone needs to go and read it. Right now.
I promise, you've never read a book like this before. It's a diverse, feminist western Young Adult novel, about a Chinese-American violinist called Samantha and a runaway slave called Annamae, disguised as boys and on the run on the Oregon Trail.
Going into this, I knew pretty much nothing about the Oregon Trail. I'd never read or watched a western in my life (Firefly excluded). So when I started the book, I was both really excited by the unique concept, and not entirely sure if it was for me. But honestly, this book is amazing. The prose is lyrical yet readable, the historical details are vivid and absorbing, and the characters all feel incredibly real.
At its heart, Under a Painted Sky is a story of female friendship, of two girls protecting one another and fighting against the odds for survival. It's also a massive challenge to the idea that historical fiction is allowed to be an all-white genre, that the 19th century doesn't have space for interesting stories about female characters or minorities, let alone about female minorities.
And it's also simply a gripping story, beautifully told. Go pick up a copy. You won't regret it.